Empower Place

We envision a community that embraces food justice where social safety net programs are recognized as part of the solution.

EmPower Place is a hands-on family learning center located at Missoula Food Bank & Community Center and is a collaborative effort by spectrUM Discovery Area, Missoula Food Bank and Community Center and Missoula Public Library. Dedicated to nourishing the bodies and minds of local children and families, it is one part community center, one part science museum, one part food hub, and one part library. 

Read our collaboration story

Rich with science exhibits, role models from the University of Montana, literacy and STEM programming, and books for children, young adults, and parents, EmPower Place offers enriching experiences free of charge to all Missoula families.


Monday, Tuesday, Thursday: 10:00 am – 6:00 pm

Wednesday, Friday: 10am – 1pm

Afterschool Meals served 

- Monday & Tuesday 3:15-6 PM

- Thursday 2:30-6PM

All kids enjoying an afterschool meal must stay and eat in EmPower Place! Grab & Go meals are no longer available to take out of EmPower Place, but don't worry! We have tons of fun activities to share while you eat!


Missoula Food Bank & Community Center (MFB&CC) envisions a community that works together in building a hunger-free Missoula where those most impacted are a leading voice in the solutions to poverty and hunger.

We hope to empower caregivers who are the true experts on food insecurity and the challenges that families face. We hope that LEVL participants will feel supported in sharing their stories, using their voices and power to influence decision makers, and to build community within the group.

Rates of food insecurity in 2021 averaged at 10.2%. This increased for households with children (12.5%), households with children under age 6 (12.9%) and households with children headed by a single woman (24.3%). While LEVL is open to anyone, we will center those most impacted by racism, sexism and income inequality in caregiver roles (women and non-binary folks, BIPOC individuals, single parents, etc.).


If selected, LEVL participants must commit to four hours per month of program activities. Regular weekly meetings will take place every other Thursday (starting 9/21) from 3-5pm. Additional programs and activities will have varied times throughout the month.

Biweekly monthly group meetings

September 21st, October 5th, October 19th, November 2nd, November 16th, December 7th, December 21st, January 4th, January 18th, February 1st, February 15th, March 7th, March 21st, April 4th, April 18th, May 2nd, May 16th

EmPower Place is open during all meetings at MFB&CC for free childcare.

Free meals are provided (or prepared) at every meeting at MFB&CC for families.

Participants graduate after nine months of full participation. Upon completion, graduates receive a Certificate of Completion, have a graduation party for families, and receive invitations to future LEVL group meetings and future speaking opportunities and trainings.

MFB&CC provides volunteer participants a nominal reimbursement for time spent implementing this important program, $50 per month for nine months and $100 as a bonus upon full participation (for a total of $550). Incentives are provided in the form of VISA Gift Cards, and are the sole responsibility of the participant. MFB&CC is not responsible for lost or stolen cards, and cannot replace incentive reimbursements. Participants are neither employees nor contractors of MFB&CC, and therefore, MFB&CC holds no responsibility in reporting incentive compensation the IRS or others.

While supported by MFB&CC staff, this program is designed to be led from within. The program will be steered by the collective interests of participants. Some examples could include: storytelling, cooking classes, financial literacy, public speaking, photography classes, civic and democratic process engagement, self-care and mindfulness.

The group is facilitated by Ashlee Schleicher (she/her) and Emily Bogartz-Brown (they/she). Ashlee is a member of MFB&CC’s leadership team and has personally experienced food insecurity, and unstable housing. Ashlee is a mom to an eight year old boy and is motivated by her own experiences to facilitate this group. Emily joins us with lived experience housing and wage insecurity throughout their early adult life. Through this experience they found strength and purpose from resources within the community, like MFB&CC, and values community building as one of the strongest tools of resistance in the fight for lower and middle class liberation. They both see LEVL as a radical opportunity to build strong relationships with others and within themselves to transform the state of our current world for the better.


LEVL applications for the 2024/2025 session will open in early August.

Have questions? Email Ashlee Schleicher at ashlee@missoulafoodbank.org.

What's Happening in EmPower Place?

Calendar of Activities

Read aloud with Missoula Public Library

Wander in the World of Science, Technology, Engineering, & Mathematics!

Get ready to make a mess with Kevin! Build armor, construct catapults, & carve out castles this month!

Nestle in to hear of far-away worlds! Dress up to take part in the story!

Interested in volunteering?

If you are interested in being in a fun, interactive space with children and their families, please email marcus@missoulafoodbank.org (Volunteer Coordinator). We are looking for volunteers that can be involved any day (Monday – Friday) anytime between 9:30am – 6:30pm. No childcare experience required, just a desire to interact with kids and families in our community. 

Volunteering in the space requires a few hours of training beforehand to learn about safety measures, sanitation needs and protocols for interacting with children.

Contact Marcus to Volunteer

spectrUM EmPower Place Award Video

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EmPower Place

In the past year, we welcomed visits from 5,104 local families, connecting neighbors to food access, community building, and amazing programming. We heard Indigenous Storytelling with Miss Dacia, painted with chemistry with SpectrUM, and told Tiny Tales with Missoula Public Library