Billings Food Bank lands $1M gift from foundation
Construction of new building should be complete in April
By ZACH BENOIT
Of The Gazette Staff
A $1 million donation from the Fortin Foundation has put the Billings Food Bank a lot closer to its new
The announcement of the Florida-based foundation's gift came Thursday afternoon. Sheryle Shandy, the
executive director of the Food Bank, said the money was donated to a capital campaign to fund a new $5
million warehouse and operations center.
"This is the largest single gift the Food Bank has received," she said. It received a $700,000 gift several
years ago, she said.
In September, the old Food Bank building was demolished to make room for the new 54,000-square-foot
building at 2112 Fourth Ave. N., which is scheduled to be completed in April.
The donation brings total fundraising to just less than $4 million, or about 80 percent of the projected cost.
The building - being built by Jones Construction of Billings - is about one-third finished, Shandy said, and
is on schedule to be completed on time. It will house all of the Food Bank's operations, including
warehouse space for food, a larger commercial kitchen and space for classes on cooking and budgeting.
The Food Bank moved into the previous building in 1982.
"The old building was literally falling apart," said Jerry Thomas, chairman of the capital campaign and the
chief Food Bank volunteer.
He said the donation also helps shore up future fundraising efforts by setting an example for others.
"When you get a capital campaign going, the number one goal has to be finding a leader," he said. "The
Fortin Foundation is at the top of that pyramid. It anchors the full effort."
While the Food Bank learned of the donation only Wednesday, it was a process that had been in the
works since the beginning of the year, Shandy said. The Fortin Foundation has been a supporter for most
of the Food Bank's 27-year history, and representatives made at least four trips to Billings this year to
check out progress on the new building and discuss funding efforts.
"The passion that the board and Sheryl had for the project, they just felt that it was being operated very
prudently," Fortin Foundation board member Nick Cladis said of the foundation's decision. "This is a great
Even with the donation, about $1 million has to be raised to reach the $5 million goal. Shandy said events
are already in the works, including the annual Mardi Gras fundraiser in February.
"We don't want to let this event pass without appealing to the community," Thomas said. "Getting $1
million is great, but it's just as great getting $1,000 from a family."
The Fortin Foundation of Florida is named for Mary Alice Fortin. Over three decades, she gave millions of
dollars to education and health care facilities in Montana and Florida until her death, at 97, in 2007. Her
daughters, Lesly Stockard Smith and Susan Stockard Channing, and granddaughter, Danielle
Hickox-Moore, now run the foundation.
At the time of Fortin's death, it was listed as the 50th-largest foundation in Florida, with assets of more
than $43 million. As of Dec. 31, 2007, the foundation's assets were listed by the Foundation Center at
more than $62 million.
In the past year, the Billings Food Bank, founded in 1982, gave food to families and individuals more than
77,700 times and provided about 350,000 meals at locations around the Billings area. In 2007, it provided
about 7 million pounds of food and $13 million worth of service and food to people in six counties.
Published on Friday, December 12, 2008.
Last modified on 12/12/2008 at 12:29 am