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Hubbard County Food Shelf need is rising

Hubbard County Food Shelf volunteers Dodie Egge and Glenys Hotzler stock shelves this week. (Anna Erickson / Enterprise)

The Hubbard County Food Shelf came up short after its March fundraising campaign.

“We were about $6,000 short of what we had last year,” said food shelf coordinator Dave Long.

Despite a large donation of nearly $15,000 from the fifth annual Chili Challenge, fundraising was less than last year.

“It was surprising,” Long said. “Considering we took in $30,000 less in 2013 than the previous year we will have to make some changes.”

The Hubbard County Food Shelf continues to see more need along with fewer donations.

“We’ll likely have to discontinue the turkey Christmas basket and the board will have to address some other areas,” he said.

The board of directors will meet May 13 and make some decisions at that meeting.

Everyone who helps with the food shelf is a volunteer. No one gets paid, Long said.

“All money is going toward food and the maintenance of the building,” he said.

While donations are decreasing, the usage continues to increase.

“It was up again this last month,” he said. “We had about 100 additional families in March of 2014 compared to March 2013.”

Although March is the big fundraising campaign for the food shelf, donations are still appreciated in April or any time of year.

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

“In the last 20 years, usage has increased 10-15 percent each year for 20 years,” Long said.

In 1994, the food shelf gave out 19 tons of food to a little over 2,000 individuals. In 2013, the food shelf gave out 317 tons of food to more than 15,000 individuals.

The food shelf had built up a surplus over the years but can’t continue operating with a deficit, Long 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. But the majority of clients are in their 20s and 30s.

“Young families with children who can’t make it on minimum wage,” Long said.

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.

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