Story and photos by Joseph T. O’Connor EBS Managing Editor
BIG SKY – On a sunny, mid-September afternoon, savory scents wafted from the large white tent behind the Gallatin Riverhouse Grill south of Big Sky. It was clear where the second annual Chili Feed was being held.
More than a fundraiser for the Big Sky Community Food Bank, the Chili Feed is a gift from the food bank’s board, according to advisory member Lynne Anderson.
“It’s a thank you to the community for supporting the food bank,” said Anderson, also owner of Big Sky’s Country Market grocery store, over a piping bowl of green chili stew on Sept. 19. “But if you want to try some chili and make a donation, go right ahead.”
On a long table at the south end of the tent bubbled seven variations of chili, simmering in chafingdishes or crockpots alongside mounds of cornbread. Patrons voted for their favorite recipe, prepared by seven different chefs in the Big Sky area, by placing donations in front of the respective chili.
Musician James Salestrom Jr. regaled the crowd with his guitar while attendees mingled and sampled chili ranging from spicy Texas-style to mellower chicken chili, and from traditional to an Italian approach, among others.
While the Chili Feed represented the local food bank’s appreciation for the community’s generosity, the branch raised more than $725 at the event. Food bank volunteers and employees were present to answer questions about the nonprofit’s food-donation directives.
Donors can drop off outdated food for up to a year after it expires, Anderson said, adding that the food bank can accept provisions that have been expired longer, within reason, which it can then transfer to the Community Café in Bozeman. Located on North 7th Avenue, the Community Café prepares all food to meet USDA standards, and provides meals to guests on a pay-if-you-can basis.
“This community, if they’re donating to the food bank, they’re making sure [that food] doesn’t go in the dumpster,” Anderson said.
Diane Bartzick’s chicken chili took home first place honors, while Dick Allgood’s green chili stew came in a close runner up.
Battle of 191 “Kick their Cans” Food Drive
Contributors in the second annual food-drive competition between the Big Sky and West Yellowstone school districts donated more than 3,500 pounds of food to the Big Sky Community Food Bank, as well as the West Yellowstone Social Services’ Food Bank.
“This will definitely hold us through the fall season,” said Big Sky Community Food Bank Operations Manager Sarah Gaither. “It fills the gap between the summer season and when I start getting really busy in the middle of October.”
WYSD: 633.76 pounds
BSSD: 2,939.5 pounds