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Food Shelf still looking for donations with need increasing

Time is marching on in Hubbard County's Food Shelf drive.

The first two weeks' donations of food and funds are on par with last year, but food shelf director Dave Long said he's anticipating an overall downturn in donations due to the economy.

And this comes at a time when he's expecting a 25 percent rise in demand, "based on what we're seeing (in food shelf requests) and layoffs in the area."

The food and funds raised during the spring drive, which concludes April 3, are the basis for the year's funding from Minnesota FoodShare.

For the most part, those seeking assistance are the working poor, Long said. Their income does not cover basic needs. Low wages without benefits, skyrocketing housing and energy costs and out-of-pocket medical expenses make working families vulnerable to hunger.

More seniors are arriving at the food shelf, a change from years past.

Food shelf vouchers are issued by a variety of sources, including churches, social services and Mahube.

North Star Orthodontics continues to take a bite out of hunger with their unique approach to fundraising.

This year's goal - with a Spring into Action theme - is to raise $2,000 and 2,000 pounds.

"We're getting close," customer service rep Marsha Smith reported mid-month.

When J&B Foods held its closeout sale prior to the move, owner Cindy Kelly sent five employees to the store with $100 each and a goal. The shopper whose groceries registered the heaviest on the scale won.

The groceries will be donated to the food shelf; the winner won a gift certificate to a local restaurant.

A pie social and silent auction among employees raised $1,000. Soup and bread lunches are also raising funds.

St. Peter the Apostle's Catholic Youth Group is once again rising to the occasion. Members arrived at the food shelf with 740 pounds of food after going door to door this week, a "down payment" on what's to come.

John Zinniel, who works with the youth group, said he anticipates a $3,000-plus cash donation and another third of a ton of food to be donated by the drive's end.

Checks to the Hubbard County Food Shelf may be mailed to Dave Long at 15701 Essex Rd., Park Rapids, MN 56470.

Food drop-off locations in March and April include Curves, churches, banks, schools, grocery stores, the hospital and Innovis Health.

Preferred donations include:

-Canned - fruit, tomatoes, stew, vegetables, soup, meats, kidney beans, pork and beans and fruit juice.

-Other - Hamburger Helper, Jello or pudding, hot cereal, instant potatoes, peanut butter, macaroni and cheese, pasta, Bisquick, cake mix, rice, powdered milk, sugar, crackers, pancake syrup, cookies and jelly.

-Non-food items - bar soap, toilet tissue, toothpaste and shampoo.

Donation of dry cereal is discouraged because it's significantly less expensive at the food bank.

The food shelf is located at 706 East 3rd St. It's open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday.

The Hubbard County Food Shelf is an all-volunteer enterprise. None of the money collected is used for salaries. A small percentage is used for heat, light and insurance. Water and sewer are donated by the city and no real estate taxes are assessed.