by Dennis Dalman
Catholic Charities Emergency Services Food Shelf gathered in more food in March than any of the 284 food-shelf services in Minnesota, except for one – the one in Rochester.
Based in St. Cloud, Catholic Charities Food Shelf distributes food supplies to people in an economic pinch throughout the area, although some cities in the greater St. Cloud area, such as St. Joseph, do have their own food-shelf services operated by volunteers. The Catholic Charities Food Shelf serves people in Sartell, St. Cloud, Sauk Rapids, Waite Park and St. Augusta.
Every March, there is a statewide drive dubbed Minnesota FoodShare Month, which is coordinated by the Minnesota FoodShare organization. It is a much-publicized effort to restock dwindling or empty shelves depleted during the holiday season.
“We are thrilled – thrilled,” said Trina Dietz of Sartell, who is communications director for Catholic Charities. “It feels good because of all the good work the people in our communities do to help others.”
Several factors made the March food effort a success for Catholic Charities, according to its executive director, Steve Pareja.
“Events like Pack the Porches and the food drives done by local churches made a huge impact in the amount of food and funds we were able to collect,” he said. “We really appreciate the partnerships we have in the community with Coborn’s, Pioneer (Place) on Fifth, St. Cloud Hyundai, HealthPartners and many other businesses that did food drives during the March campaign.”
The need for food help is often forgotten in the summer months because many people associate emergency food needs with holiday times such as Christmas.
“Typically,” Pareja said, “the busiest days at Catholic Charities Emergency Food Shelf are in the summer months. Schools do a great job of supporting kids in need during the school year, but families rely on food shelves when that school assistance isn’t available in summertime.”
In an interview with the Newsleader, Dietz said in 2017 Minnesota FoodShare collected $8 million in cash and 4.8-million pounds of food during the March campaign. Because Catholic Charities took second place this year, it will receive some incentive funds from Minnesota FoodShare, and that amount will be announced at a later date, Dietz said.
Dietz said the Catholic Charities Emergency Food Shelf is currently very much in need of personal-care items and volunteers ages 16 or older.
Personal-care items include such things as toothbrushes, toothpaste, shampoo, deodorant, toilet paper, feminine-hygiene products, diapers and can openers.
“If people don’t have enough money for food, they probably aren’t able to buy personal-care items, either,” Dietz said.
She said she knows police officers who have gone to the scene of people who’ve injured themselves while trying to open cans of food with knives or other sharp objects because they didn’t have can openers.
In these days of brutally hot temperatures, yet another big need is for electric fans, either in gently used or new condition, Dietz noted.
If interested in volunteering some time, call Michelle at 320-650-1550.
Donations are accepted year-round at Catholic Charities, located at 157 Roosevelt Road in St. Cloud. Items or monetary donations can be dropped off from 8 a.m.-4 p.m. Monday-Friday, and from 8 a.m.-7 p.m. Wednesday.
For complete information about items that are in short supply and always in demand, visit ccstcloud.org.
Catholic Charities is a nonprofit organization that advances the charitable and social mission of the Diocese of St. Cloud. Its mission is to promote family life and enhance human dignity by providing quality services to meet the physical, social, emotional and spiritual needs of individuals and families of all faiths and beliefs.