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'Open Your Heart' fundraising challenge launched for HC Food Shelf

The Hubbard County Food Shelf is asking residents to "Open Your Heart" - and pocketbooks - to assist with a fundraising challenge in July.

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 the challenge funds.

"The more money collected, the more the grant will be," explained food shelf director Dave Long. This will be based on the number of Minnesota's 300 food shelves participating.

This will be the second year the Hubbard County Food Shelf requests this assistance.

Food shelf clients may now request assistance once a month, as opposed to the previous four times a year.

In May 302 families requested assistance from the food shelf, 15 families a day on average arriving for assistance.

The record: 54 families in a single day last winter.

In the first five months of the year, the food shelf has distributed 108.5 tons of food. This compares with 95.5 tons for the same period in 2011.

Long anticipates by year's end, distribution will be nearing 300 tons.

The phone rings at Hubbard's cupboard. Social Services will be sending over a family of three. A short time later, another call, Mahube will be sending over two more families. By noon, 11 families had arrived Tuesday to request food shelf assistance. "And we're usually busiest in the afternoon."

Through May, 4,829 individuals have been served representing 1,462 households. This compares with 4,039 and 1,212, respectively, in 2011. The numbers represent visits, not specific individuals and families.

Long anticipates a 10 to 15 percent increase in usage this year.

"Nearly all being served are coming once a month," Long said of the clientele arriving from Hubbard and parts of Becker and Wadena counties.

Most are families with children, he said, the adults in their 20s and 30s.

A truck with vegetables and fruit is sent to Pine Point Wednesdays.

"Now's the time," Long said of those considering a donation.

Donations may be sent to the Hubbard County Food Shelf, 308 Pleasant Ave., Park Rapids, MN 56470.