Assigning a month to a cause or concern serves to bring attention and focus engagement.
That’s the case this month with hunger and food shelves.
The Minnesota FoodShare March Campaign helps stock almost 300 food shelves statewide. In 2017, more than $8 million and 4.7-million pounds of food were donated.
FoodShare gathers a pool of incentive funds donated by huge companies, such as Target, General Mills and Land O Lakes. Those incentive funds are then distributed to member food shelves throughout the state depending on how much food those local food shelves take in during the month of March. The more food donated, the more incentive funds received from FoodShare.
This year’s campaign runs until April 8.
Donations typically fall after Christmas and March is a good time to focus on restocking the shelves.
In cental Minnesota, the Salvation Army and Catholic Charities food shelves take part in the March campaign. The St. Joseph Community Food Shelf does not benefit from the campaign but it’s still a good time to make a cash or food donation. St. Joseph’s food shelf serves 70 to 80 families a month.
Across the state, Minnesotans made more than 3 million visits to food shelves in 2017. The number of visits hasn’t changed much in the last five years, but according to Hunger Solutions, the number of seniors visiting food shelves is up more than 27 percent from five years ago. Seniors on fixed incomes are finding it increasingly difficult to afford food. The rise of mobile food shelves makes it easier for seniors with transportation challenges to use the services.
The need for you to contribute is great.
One in 10 Minnesotans does not have enough food for a healthy active life. Almost 14 percent of children have food needs.
Food shelves serving the area include:
Salvation Army, 400 Highway 10 S. in St. Cloud
Catholic Charities, 157 Roosevelt Road in St. Cloud
St. Joseph Community Food Shelf, 25 First Ave. SE.
You can help in many ways.
Cash donations are always welcome. According to Minnesota Food Share, cash donations made to Minnesota FoodShare or directly to your local food shelf make the greatest impact, allowing food shelves to buy according to their communities’ needs and stretching your $1 into more than $4 worth of food-shelf items.
Nonperishable food items can be left at community collection boxes.
According to Ann Scherer at the St. Joseph food shelf, items constantly needed are pancake mix and pancake syrup, jellies and jams, laundry soap, personal-care items such as shampoo, conditioner, deodorant, toothbrushes, toothpaste and other types of personal-hygiene products.
You can always volunteer your time at the food shelves. It’s a great way to meet your neighbors and help your community.
And remember, when March is over, the need continues. Your help is needed every month of the year.