Special Delivery


When a person reports a positive COVID-19 case to the Gallatin County Health Department, they are asked if they need any assistance. If they do, a cadre of people across multiple organizations are ready to help.

At 3 p.m. on a Tuesday, one such person, Health Department volunteer Kristal Jones, pulled up to the Gallatin Valley Food Bank in her minivan to collect boxes of food to be delivered to people isolated by COVID. The food was hand-picked by food bank staff member Chloe Loeffelholz, who took into consideration things like food allergies, or availability of cooking implements.

In summer of 2020, Jones was feeling the early pandemic blues when she noticed a post on a listserv seeking volunteers for the health department. She was glad to find a way to engage with her community at a time when people were otherwise isolated. “It was really calming to be like, I can’t fix the political stuff, and I can’t fix that a lot of people are getting sick, but I can at least help these five people this week.”

On this day, Jones had three food deliveries to make. The first two were at the former Rodeway Inn, which was purchased by the Human Resource Development Council in 2021. The hotel has a small COVID-19 quarantine area, separated from the rest of the building by a sheet of plastic in the hallway.

Her last delivery was at a house in a neighborhood not far from Montana State University. Jones grew up in Bozeman before moving to the East Coast for 15 years. Upon returning, she was taken aback by the growth. Delivering food to people of all backgrounds throughout Gallatin Valley reminded her that Bozeman isn’t a big place. “There’s people with needs all over the valley and there's people helping each other out all over the valley, which is pretty cool,” said Jones. “Not a radical revelation.”