Food Share Month needs support
As the economy tightens, food shelf staff and volunteers are sometimes the first to see the realities faced by many families. Carolyn Hegland, director of the Bemidji Community Food Shelf, cited statistics indicating that 23 percent of people res...
As the economy tightens, food shelf staff and volunteers are sometimes the first to see the realities faced by many families.
Carolyn Hegland, director of the Bemidji Community Food Shelf, cited statistics indicating that 23 percent of people resorting to food shelves are low-income working families. She said there has been a 50-percent statewide increase in food shelf visits during the last six years.
State legislators are working on strategies to end hunger, but meanwhile, the local food shelf needs help, she said.
"We can give families the emergency food help they need so that they can pay an unexpected bill or purchase required medication," she said.
Hegland said the food shelf welcomes food donations at all times, but March is Food Share Month when cash donations receive extra incentive allocations from Hunger Solutions, an organization comprised of Second Harvest affiliated food banks, food shelves and emergency feeding programs.
"The food and money collected stays right here in Bemidji, but it will be increased by giving us additional funds sent out during the year," she said. "Now is when we get more for the money we bring in."
The Bemidji Community Food Shelf spent about $84,000 to buy food last year, Hegland said. With that money and food donations, she said the food shelf was able to distribute 303,000 pounds of food to 18,366 individuals, more than one-half of whom were children. More than 100 volunteers helped distribute the food, she said.
"Families may use the food shelf only four times a year, but many come in just once or twice when they are truly in need," Hegland said. "We need to raise most of our total food budget in March to carry us through the remainder of the year. Unfortunately, we're short of our goal so far."
The food shelf is located at 310 Fourth St. N.W. Hours for food donations are 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Those who would like to donate money can send checks to BSFD, PO Box 3118, Bemidji, MN 56619.