In Billings, an estimated 600 people are homeless on any given night and more than half of that number is homeless families, according to Shametrius Long, an AmeriCorps VISA volunteer who is spearheading a food drivie and more.

"It's important to bring awareness to these issues and address these problems as a community," Long told Townsquare Media. "As a VISTA, I have worked with many service organizations that help the homeless or those who struggle with food insecurity and the number of returning clients are heartbreaking. That is why I gathered this group of individuals together to bring awareness to this very important issue.:

Her efforts extend beyond a one-time food drive.

On Tuesday, November 17, she is bringing together community organizations on to address food insecurity, homelessness and what is happening in Billings to help end hunger and homelessness. "A Food For Thought: Panel Discussion" will be held from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the Billings Public Library.

Representatives from Family Services Inc.; Family Promise, Billings Housing Authority; and HRDC, a  community action agency; will speak about their effort in the community to eradicate hunger and homelessness.

The is the first step in a two-prong approach to the issues.

Alex Wong, Getty Images

A food drive, "Hunger Doesn't Take a Holiday Food Drive, will be held the week of November 16. You may help families in need by donating to Family Service Inc.

Donations may be dropped off at the following locations and times:

  • Lucky’s Market, 1603 Grand Ave. during store hours;
  • Albertsons, 2334 Central Ave. during store hours;
  • Billings Public Library, 510 N. Broadway Ave., during library hours; and
  • First Congregational Church, 310 N. 27th St., November 16-19 between
    10 a.m. and 4 p.m.

All donations are welcome. Requested items are: pasta products, canned vegetables and fruit, tuna and canned chicken.

For more information, please contact: Shametrius Long, AmeriCorps VISTA, Vista6@ci.billings.mt.us, (406) 237-6105