Area food shelves see ups and downs

Donations of garden produce and non-perishable items are welcome at area food shelves. With grocery prices rising, people are having to stretch their food budget and some are turning to the food shelf for help. Food shelf volunteers are also needed. Submitted photo.

The Akeley-Nevis Community Food Shelf has seen a 38 percent increase since February. “We have registered 120 families so far this year and serve 65-70 families each week,” general operations manager Steve Greene said. “I believe most of the increase in the use of our services is related to COVID-19 and people’s ability to make a living. We have distributed 38,000 pounds of groceries from January through June.”

Green said the biggest issue the food shelf faces is the lack of having a big store to provide day-old bread and fresh produce on a regular basis. Food donations can be brought into the food shelf at 6 Broadway St. in downtown Akeley from 9 to 11 a.m. Tuesday, or to the Thrifty Treasures store in Akeley that supports the food shelf from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays.

Food is distributed from 9 to 11 a.m. Tuesdays. For more information, call the food shelf at 652-2388.

The number of families using the Hubbard County food shelf has declined since March, but last month more clients returned, including an increase in seniors.

“We cut our hours this spring because our client count went way down compared to prior years,” food shelf director Bob Hansen said. “SNAP (food stamp) program funds were increased, and with the stimulus package and the schools doing meal delivery sites, some people are doing better than they were.”


Hansen while they have not seen many new families applying so far this year, they have recently seen previous clients who haven’t been in since 2019 returning.

“We had 18 clients who made their first return visit for this year in July,” he said. “And I do believe we’re seeing a slight increase in the numbers of seniors who are coming to the food shelf.”

He said an increase in grocery stores prices may lead to more food shelf use down the road, but they haven’t seen the impact yet.

Anyone who needs help from the food shelf can fill out a simple form online.

“We’ve been delivering meals in the Park Rapids, Akeley, Nevis, Osage, Menahga and Ponsford areas for a couple of months now,” he said. “In the Osage, Menahga and Ponsford zip codes, they need to be within the Park Rapids school district.”

Existing clients simply call in and request a delivery. New clients need to apply first. Clients are notified when a driver is available to deliver the food and need to be home to receive it. The food box is left out on the doorstep. Food can be requested once a month.

Food stands with free fresh produce may be back later this summer. “We’re evaluating that right now,” Hansen said, adding that they are always looking for volunteers to work at the food shelf and deliver meals.

The food shelf accepts donations of fresh produce and non-perishable food. Disinfectant wipes for cleaning are also needed. Donations can be brought to the food shelf during regularly scheduled hours Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.


Checks to support the program can be sent to the Hubbard County Food Shelf, 308 Pleasant Ave. South, Park Rapids, 56470.

Coborn’s grocery store in Park Rapids has been doing a “roundup” program for the food shelf. The idea started from the shortage of coins available to give customers for change. When buying groceries with cash, customers are asked if their purchase can be rounded to the nearest dollar. The total amount collected is put on gift cards for the food shelf.

Lorie Skarpness has lived in the Park Rapids area since 1997 and has been writing for the Park Rapids Enterprise since 2017. She enjoys writing features about the people and wildlife who call the north woods home.
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