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St. Regis Senior Citizens Center becomes host of commodities program

by MONTE TURNER
Mineral Independent | April 24, 2024 12:00 AM

“It’s going great!” beamed Dave Hannah, president of the St. Regis Senior Citizens Center. “These volunteers know what to do and they jump right in and do it. You can’t ask for better people.”

This was said on Wednesday, April 17 at 209 Lobo Loop around 9:45 a.m., as it was the first time that the food supplement program used the facility. Most locals refer to this program as simply "commodities," which is serviced by the Western Montana Area VI Agency on Aging in Polson and has been under the umbrella of the Mineral County Pioneer Council, until recently. 

The SRSCC is the new host and moved everything across the road to their facility. Previously, the food distributions days have been at the St. Regis Community Center which has more elbow room. The new area is smaller but was laid out in a comparable pattern the way that everyone has been used to organizing and receiving over the years. 

“Actually, Clint and Tom Heacock decided how they wanted to do it, and boom, it happened this morning. Everyone was familiar with the work area and moved the necessary dining tables to set up the worktables,” Hannah explained. 

“I think that these people are grandiose,” said Clint Derr, who is second in command after Hannah. “Everyone knows what they are doing and it’s clearly visible that they have worked together doing this over the years so the minor adjustment of space is not a problem at all."

The semi-delivery truck from Missoula with the groceries arrived 10 minutes after 8 a.m., which was early, as the driver wanted to scout out the best way to back in and unload. 

“It was only Dave and me and two volunteers when the truck showed up,” said Derr. “But as we were getting the dollies ready, the rest of the volunteers showed up so it was not a problem.”

About 20 longtime and dedicated volunteers were a blur taking canned vegetables and fruits, cartooned milk, pasta, cereal, juices and other non-perishable items from the cases on the floor to their worktable so the recipients could carry their basket from station to station receiving what they’ll use over the next two months. 

About 78 people were serviced and that number fluctuates a little with each delivery. One volunteer approached Hannah and Derr with a small issue. 

“We only have 60 cans of peas,” she said. “What do we have that we can substitute?” Hannah asked Derr. 

“Red beans. I have extra red beans that we’ll use,” as the two smiled at each other and jumped back in to help pack, unpack, load, and deliver food boxes to vehicles in the parking lot. 

“So far, it’s been an easy transition as the volunteers are committed to helping no matter what organization it’s under,” Derr shared.

Asked if he can see any tactical changes to make for the next delivery in June, Hannah said, “There are several things I’ve seen but I won’t know until I talk to everybody for their input after we wrap up today.” 

For information on the commodities food supplement program, or any questions on what the SRSCC does for the community, call (406) 649-2499.