Year of Award


Document Type


Degree Type

Master of Science (MS)

Degree Name


Department or School/College

Department of Geography

Committee Chair

Christiane von Reichert

Commitee Members

Sarah J. Halvorson, Tom Seekins


Facility location modeling, food assistance, GIS, emergency services, social services, food bank


University of Montana

Subject Categories

Geographic Information Sciences


Over the last ten years, the Missoula Food Bank has seen a greater need for its services leading to funding shortfalls. To meet the needs of an increasing number of clients with a limited budget, the Missoula Food Bank must look for ways to modify its operations while increasing efficiency of its services. As the Food Bank budget is used to acquire food and currently also transport it from warehouse locations to the food pantry in a crowded space, reducing distances and transport cost of hauling food would in turn free up funds to obtain more food. At the same time, the Food Bank needs to operate from a central location that can be readily accessed by its clients. The primary objective of this thesis is to explore whether the current or an alternative location would be better for operating the food bank in order to provide the greatest level of access to food bank clients. To accomplish this, GIS-based facility location modeling is employed using the p-median approach and incorporating a variety of scenarios. Geographically, scenarios include the entire county as well as a smaller area centered on the Missoula urban area. Socio-demographically, location models are run without taking populations into account (unweighted), by using population weight, and by weighting for poor and very poor households. Separate sets of models include and exclude the current food bank location as a candidate site. Whether for the entire Missoula county or the smaller urban areas, whether with or without socio-demographic weights, the facility location models identify the same sites as most accessible based on minimal average costs of access to clients. The findings of this thesis help to inform the discussion about ways to improve services designed to eradicate community food insecurity, and contribute to broadening the use of GIS to advance the efficiency of social services.



© Copyright 2016 Mary Buford French