Community Building

We envision a community that embraces food justice where those most impacted are a leading voice in the solutions to poverty and hunger.

Building a strong community

Our community makes us who we are, drives the decisions we make, & the opportunities we provide. We are committed to amplifying the voices of our neighbors and our community is better for it. Our spaces are open to all community members to organize, dream, & create new realities for Missoula.

How will you create community in these spaces?

Lived Experience Voices & Leaders


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 open August 1st, 2023 and will be accepted until September 7th, 2023. Find the online version below.

Paper applications must be returned to MFB&CC to the attention of Ashlee Schleicher.

To be emailed an application, request one from

Apply for LEVL

Best way to reach you

LEVL will be meeting on the first and third Thursday each month from 3-5pm, starting September 21st. 

Free childcare and dinner will be provided for all participants and their children.

Will you be available to commit to this meeting time September 21st – May 16th?
Are you able to contribute to a positive and supportive culture for all participants?

Examples may include: parenting tools, cooking and nutrition classes, leadership development, self care practices, financial fitness, budget meals, civic engagement, public speaking, meeting with elected officials, etc.

Throughout the nine months, we hope to establish a collective goal to work on in our advocacy efforts. What social issues are of most importance to you?