Gallatin Valley Farm to School

Participants work on a project during a fall education program with Gallatin Valley Farm to School.

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If the pandemic has you burning through recipes and the same takeout places, a fundraiser Friday is ready to offer a four-course meal prepared by local restaurants and chefs featuring local food.

The fifth annual Winter’s Bounty fundraiser from Gallatin Valley Farm to School, a nonprofit focused on connecting kids to local food, will look a little different this year due to the pandemic but still plans to offer delicious, local foods while also benefiting local providers and restaurants.

“Restaurants are suffering, local businesses are suffering and we really need to come together to make sure these folks can get through the pandemic,” said Kate Emmerich, associate director of Gallatin Valley Farm to School. “… We essentially pivoted our in-person event in response.”

While previous years’ events were held in-person and included a band and a live and silent auction, this year’s will raise money for the nonprofit and seven participating restaurants and caterers with its takeout model.

The ticket price includes a four-course takeaway dinner focused on locally sourced ingredients, a story about a local grower whose products are used in the dinner and a printed menu. Some restaurants also offer wine pairings for an additional fee.

Out of the $125 ticket, $50 will go directly to the restaurant or chef to pay their staff and purchase food from local growers and $75 will go to the Gallatin Valley Farm to School to fund their local programs.

Emmerich said a call to action in a letter to the editor published in the Chronicle by several local chefs and restaurant owners resonated with the staff and board of directors when planning their annual fundraiser.

“We are reaching out to you, our community, with a heartfelt request: that each of you patronizes the local restaurants you love throughout this fall and winter… We will not survive without you,” the November letter said.

Emmerich said they reached out to the restaurants who penned the article and had seven restaurants signed up fairly quickly.

“It wasn’t hard to sell the notion of ‘Hey, let’s work together,’ so restaurants can have enough financial support during this uncertain time and allows them to purchase from and support local food which has a ripple effect,” she said.

Emmerich said it was an example of being responsive to the needs of the community.

One of the programs the nonprofit is fundraiser for is its spring break camp, the first it’s held. In collaboration with the Museum of the Rockies, the camp will be from March 15-19 for first through fifth grades. The students will learn outdoors, get creative with cooking, learn about soil, compost and biodiversity among other things.

“We want the kids to see that science happens everywhere,” Emmerich said.

Applications for camp scholarships are available on its website for families who have financial barriers to participating.

“Our goal this year has been to reach more kids and more families in creative ways,” Emmerich said.

Participants in the winter fundraiser include Seasonal Montana, Feast, Little Star Diner, Feed Café, Fork & Spoon, The Food Studio and Food for Thought. The seven providers also include vegetarian, vegan or gluten-free options.

The seven restaurants and chefs have pulled local ingredients from over 17 Montana growers and providers, including SporeAttic Mushrooms, Wild Crumb, Black Dog Farm, Cordova Farms, Roots Kitchen and Cannery, Montana Cattle Company, Three Hearts Farm and Barney Creek Livestock.

To ensure the restaurants have enough time to order ingredients, ticket purchases have closed for all but one, the Food Studio. Emmerich said ticket sales will most likely stay open until Thursday.

Emmerich estimates they had sold 132 tickets as of Monday — 30 more than they sold for last year’s in-person event. Last year the group raised $48,000 during its winter fundraiser, held about two weeks before the pandemic caused large in-person events to shutter.

“Although this year has been challenging, we feel reinvigorated and recommitted to working with our community and growing a stronger food system,” she said.

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Liz Weber can be reached at or 582-2633.

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