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Donations sought for July food shelf challenge grant

Food shelf director Dave Long is asking for donations for an Open Your Heart challenge grant. The grant funds will fund holiday food baskets. (Jean Ruzicka / Enterprise)

July has met the mid-mark, as has the Hubbard County Food Shelf's "Open Your Heart" fundraising initiative.

The food shelf is participating in a $100,000 challenge grant via Open Your Heart, a nonprofit organization with a mission to assist the hungry and homeless in Minnesota.

The donations collected in July will proportionally match challenge funds.

The food shelf set a goal of $10,000, "and so far we are half way there," reports food shelf director Dave Long.

Funds realized from Open Your Heart will be used for the Christmas food baskets, an $11,000 cost.

This will be the first year the Hubbard County Food Shelf requests this assistance, Long said.

"Last year, we were flush. Why take money away from food shelves that need the money?" he said.

But the move to Pleasant Avenue and building renovations have cost more than anticipated. This includes the city now charging for water and sewer. The fees were waived at the food shelf's former location.

The increased and unforeseen costs are coupled with the USDA regulation requiring the food shelf to serve clients once a month," as opposed to three times a year.

In the first five months of the year, the food shelf has distributed 95.5 tons of food. This compares with 133 tons for the entire year in 2009. (The USDA regulations came into play in October 2010.)

Long anticipates by year's end, distribution will amount to more than 200 tons.

Donations, which must be received by the end of July may be sent to the Hubbard County Food Shelf, c/o Dave Long, 15701 Essex Rd., Park Rapids, MN 56470 or dropped off at the food shelf, 308 Pleasant Avenue, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday.