by Dennis Dalman
If it weren’t for the open-hearted generosity of the people, churches and businesses of Rice, many families would be going to bed most nights hungry.
About 70 families in Rice and rural Rice are served by the Rice Area Food Shelf every month.
“The need is there, and we see we’re helping people,” said Peggy Herman, food-shelf coordinator. “It’s wonderful when we know people need it and we can help them out.”
Herman, her husband John and Rice resident Sherry Kapsner are the three co-coordinators of the service. They’ve been doing that hard job for 15 years, and they will continue to do it because they see the constant, growing need to help hurting families secure food for their tables.
“We are a non-profit,” Herman said, “so all of our funding comes through donations. Donations totally support us. We get wonderful support from people, from the four area churches, from local businesses and from the city. The city provides space for our distribution center (the “old” Village Hall on main street). There is no cost to us for using that space. The city also provides the electricity for operation of the freezer and refrigerator at no cost to us. Without all of that generous support, we would not be here.”
On the first Thursday of every full week of the month, food-shelf clients receive one or more boxes of food depending on the size of their families. The boxes contain canned goods, boxed foods, bread, milk and meats. Sometimes, especially in the summer months, there are fresh vegetables available, some of them donated by local at-home gardeners.
Most food, however, comes from trucks delivered by Second Harvest Heartland, based in St. Paul, where food can be purchased bulk at cut-rate prices. The food shipments are unloaded off of the truck by some of the 10 volunteers who help every month at the distribution center. Those volunteers also pack the food into cardboard boxes on the days when clients come to the center.
The Rice Area Food Shelf coordinators are always eager to accept any non-perishable food items or vegetables fresh from gardens. The best way to contribute, however, is through cash donations, especially during the month of March, which is Minnesota Foodshare Month. Any money donated is then matched via extra Second Harvest Heartland foodstuffs. The food shelf also receives some commodities via the federal government, mainly canned goods.
Those who want to volunteer or to donate money or food items should contact Peggy at 320-393-2915 or Sherry at 320-393-4441.
Check donations can be made out to “Rice Area Food Shelf” and sent to P.O. Box 334, Rice, MN 56367.
Those who need food should just show up at old Village Hall on Main Street from 3-5:30 p.m. on the first Thursday of the first full week of the month. The next date will be Aug. 6. They should bring an I.D. to show they live in the Rice area.
“We can’t thank people enough for their support,” Herman said. “We and the people who receive the food rely upon those generous donations, and we are so thankful for them.”