March is Minnesota FoodShare month
Make your next trip to the grocery store an act of heroism and help feed someone who is hungry.
March is Minnesota FoodShare month and for area food shelves it’s a time to stock shelves that are going bare.
360 Communities runs five food shelves in Dakota County including centers in Farmington and Rosemount. 360 Communities director of self-sufficiency Anika Rychner said food shelf use continue to grow across the county and the need is immediate.
More than 500 people a month use the 360 Communities Rosemount Family Resource Center food shelf. Half of those receiving food are children.
Volunteer coordinator Shira Rabinowicz said the need for food at the center is constant.
“Food is flying out the door. It’s hard to keep up,” said Rabinowicz.
The Farmington food shelf served 1,313 people who made 4,244 visits, an average of 3.23 visits a year.
“Folks access the food shelf when they need to. I think that’s less than some people imagine,” said Rychner.
To help fight hunger in Minnesota the Minnesota FoodShare program annually hosts its March campaign to raise cash and food donations. The donations are distributed to food shelves statewide. The annual campaign will begin March 1 and raises cash and food to stock food shelves throughout the state.
Minnesota FoodShare is a program of the Greater Minneapolis Council of Churches. The grassroots effort aims to feed Minnesota families living in poverty, according to the website.
The 2013 March campaign raised $8.4 million and 4 million pounds of food. Between the food collected and the buying power of the donations, more than 37 million pounds of food was distributed to food shelves statewide, including to Rosemount and Farmington.
360 Communities participates in the March campaign. Rychner said 360 Communities has a goal to raise 75,000 pounds of food and $75,000 in March. That’s slightly more than was raised last year and she’s confident they can reach those numbers.
Area churches will soon receive a letter asking them to fill their pews with food. Rychner said last year the Pack the Pews drive was successful and she’s hopeful it will be again this year.
Additionally, Farmington High School’s Youth Development Games for Change will benefit 360 Communities. While the actual event is held in April, the group will collect money in March so it will count towards the Minnesota FoodShare numbers.
Last year, Rosemount residents and organizations stepped up big with the One Rosemount Feeding Families event in early March. This year no such event will take place, so Rabinowicz is hoping individuals and groups will come up with their own food drives. “Everything is helpful,” said Rabinowicz.
How to be a hero
Individuals and groups can help by giving and encouraging others to give. One way to do that is to hold a food drive. Rabinowicz said it can be as simple as asking people to bring a canned good to a birthday party.
Rychner encouraged people to get creative and have fun with it.
Rabinowicz said the food shelf needs anything people are willing to give. Some ideas she provided were jelly, pancake mix that just needs water, syrup, kid-friendly snacks and foods with nutritional quality. The Rosemount Family Resource Center has refrigeration, so they can accept perishable items such as eggs and meat as well.
Also, Rabinowicz said there is a need for household items such as diapers, paper towels, toilet paper, laundry detergent, shampoo and conditioner.
Overall, the need is great and Rabinowicz implored anyone who can help, even if it’s a can of spaghetti sauce, to do so.
Food shelf use is often a sign of other issues. In addition to providing food, Rychner said 360 Communities works with clients to identify the roots of a families challenges and address those issues.
To make a donation or for more information contact the Rosemount Family Resource Center at 651-322-5113.