Essential Eats designated Happy Bucks recipient for current quarter
Sara Wecker, member of the Rotary Club of Missoula Sunrise and executive director of Essential Eats, offered an overview of her all-volunteer nonprofit organization, designated as recipient of this quarter's Happy Bucks proceeds.  Essential Eats, she explained, is an all-virtual, all-volunteer non profit. Farm Link serves indigenous populations as of 2017. Rocky nation serves about 1,000 people who live in rural areas with no grocery store, no buses, trains or other public transportation, and very isolated tribal lands. Walmart is providing food each week. 
 
The Sunrise club began working with Essential Eats on a bike project a couple of years ago and invited the Missoula club to join them. Tribal members are in need of new bicycles, new food and new gifts for residents living in these rural areas. Willing to partner on their bike program, a partnership with Walmart allows Rotarians to gift bicycles to those in need. Rotarians assemble the new bikes, which cost $65 per bike, a reduced price from Walmart.   Sara said they hope to assemble and donate about 500 bikes this summer. The Essential Eats board members come from all over the state. She said her bookkeeper is in Portland, but they are able to use Facebook as a medium to reach out and meet people and understand what they need on tribal lands. There is a massive suicide problem with indigenous people, she revealed. Covid deaths are also higher among the tribal nations. The life expectancy of males in that population is only 56 years old.
 
"It is hard to realize what they are dealing with and we try to help them have food to eat and bikes to get around," said Sara.   
 
Happy Bucks will support the project. Learn more at Essential Eats Distributors, found on Facebook. Sara said she started this organization because the Blackfoot food bank shut down and it was going to be hard for them. She began the nonprofit with $1,200 raised through volunteers. She works with the Orphan Green chain that saves high-risk people, and Farm Link, a student-run organization that shipped 40,000 pounds of potatoes. Tribal citizens are accustomed to eating eight pounds of buffalo a day and most are unable to digest sugar. There is a history that hasn’t been told about interactions. Sara said that the bike program was started to build a way for folks to get around.   Groups get together to build the bikes and get them delivered to the tribes. 
 
"We are hoping to do a service project this summer to build bikes at the Comfort Inn," said Dean.