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Food shelf continues March drive

Dave Long, left, and Enterprise publisher Rory Palm. (Anna Erickson /Enterprise)

By Anna Erickson

The Hubbard County Food Shelf is in the midst of its March fundraising campaign and continues to seek donations.

A donation of $14,487.84 that was raised at the fifth annual Chili Challenge, sponsored by the Park Rapids Enterprise, has helped with the campaign but won’t completely fill the deficit from 2013.

“This was an outstanding year for the Chili cook-off,” food shelf coordinator Dave Long said. “This will go a long way toward the deficit.”

He thanked everyone who participated in the event.

The Hubbard County Food Shelf continues to see more need but saw fewer donations last year.

“We spent $30,000 more than we took in last year and our poundage was up 10 percent from the year before,” Long reported of the 2013 numbers. “And we had 145 fewer cash donators.”

He’s not entirely sure why the donations were less but the economy is his best guess. The food shelf keeps track of business donations during the March fundraising campaign and those donations were fewer.

In 2013, 317 tons of food was given out to 15,450 individuals. That amounts to 4,699 families.

The food shelf had built up a surplus over the years but can’t continue operating with a deficit, Long saiFoodFood Shelf

“Everyone here is a volunteer. We pay no salaries,” he said.

Volunteers serve in many capacities, including shoveling sidewalks, plowing, stocking shelves, giving out food, working on the calendar or writing thank you notes.

The food shelf is seeing more seniors that hadn’t previously used those services.

If donations don’t increase the food shelf would have to cut out the turkey meal baskets it gives out each year around Christmas.

More than 554,000 Minnesotans in 2012 received federal food assistance – one out of every 10 people in the state, according to Minnesota Food Share. A third was children. Another quarter was elderly or disabled adults. The total is more than the combined populations of Minneapolis, Rochester and Apple Valley.

The number of Minnesota children eligible for the Supple-mental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) has increased 150 percent since December 2006, making children the fastest growing population of SNAP participants in the state.

The 2013 Minnesota FoodShare March Campaign raised more than $8.3 million and almost 4 million pounds of food. That is the equivalent of a year’s worth of meals for more than 7,700 families of four.

The Feinstein grant also includes April in the campaign. Any donations made to the food shelf in March or April will have Feinstein grant money added to it.

The Minnesota FoodShare March Campaign raises more than half the food distributed annually at 300 food shelves statewide. A grassroots food and fund drive, the Minnesota FoodShare March Campaign is the only statewide effort where every dollar donated goes directly to food shelves to purchase food for the hungry.

Hubbard County’s Food Shelf is tied with Detroit Lakes for the second largest food shelf in the northwest area of the state, Long said. Bemidji is the biggest.

Hubbard County draws from a large area including Nevis, Akeley, Menahga, Osage, Wolf Lake, Laporte and Cass Lake.

Cash is the best way to donate because food can be purchased from a regional food bank in Crookston.

To make a donation to the Hubbard County Food Shelf send checks made payable to the Hubbard County Food Shelf to 308 Pleasant Ave, Park Rapids, MN 56470.

Anna Erickson
Anna Erickson is editor of the Wadena Pioneer Journal.
(218) 631-2561