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Pioneer Cheers & Jeers for March 19

Your chance to help feed the hungry

The Bemidji Community Food Shelf has seen its fair share of challenges and changes in the past year. It has moved into new a new facility, allowing it to serve more people, repackage large donations and better meet the needs of the Bemidji area. Those who can give are encouraged to help out in whatever way they can. This month marks Minnesota FoodShare month, the largest campaign of the year aimed at restocking nearly 300 food shelves across the state. The campaign provides a 10 percent match to financial donations to local food shelves. The Bemidji Community Food Shelf this month has a goal of collecting $85,000 and 60,000 pounds of food. The food shelf saw a 22 percent increase in demands from 2011 and 2012. And the need for families feeling the crunch – mothers and fathers making tough choices about how and what to feed their children – has grown. Jack Judkins, the local food shelf coordinator, said this month represents the most important in the organization’s history. The Bemidji Community Food Shelf is on pace to top the record 504,000 pounds of food provided to needy families in 2012. Many organizations, businesses and individuals have stepped forward to help, but the need won’t go away anytime soon. Consider a donation this month, when giving to the Bemidji Community Food Shelf can make a bigger impact.

Growing Bemidji

The latest estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau show Beltrami County continues its growth trend from the past decade. By contrast, surrounding counties were stagnant or slowly retracted from 2010 – the last official Census figures – to estimates on July 1, 2012. Last week, the Census released numbers supporting the notion the Bemidji area serves as more than a regional hub for jobs, health care and shopping. The growth increase directly correlates to a robust birth rate, proving young families continue to see the area as a great place to raise children. Statistics often don’t provide context, but the Census’ data clearly reflects what Beltrami County residents already know: the area is a terrific place for families. A strategic marketing campaign, along with an aggressive economic development plan, would help sell the Bemidji area as a relocation destination for families. That growth further brightens the future for the area we call home.