The Third annual ‘Open Your Heart to the Hungry’ event scheduled for July

By Tina Snell, Staff Writer

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Open Your Heart to the Hungry and the Homeless is preparing for its third annual $100,000 Food Shelf Challenge Grant. Every food shelf in the state has the opportunity to participate for a portion of the grant.

“The more funds a food shelf raises in July, and that’s money only, not food, the more money it will receive from the grant,” said Morrison County Food Shelf Director Gloria Thomes.

Gloria Thomes

Thomes said that in May, the food shelf in Little Falls gave out 36,800 pounds of food. On Tuesday alone, it gave out 3,800 pounds. The number of families being helped by the food shelf has grown from 417 in May 2011, to 470 in May of this year.

“This program helps alleviate the stress of having to feed a family during the summer months when the children are home from school,” she said. “Many children eat both breakfast and lunch at school and low-income families may need extra help during the summer months.”

Thomes said the Morrison County Food shelf, for more than a year, sees an average of two dozen new families each month. She said this program is an opportunity to increase the amount of money coming into the area to feed those in need.

Last year the food shelf in Little Falls received $575.93 from Open Your Heart to the Hungry and Homeless, a 58 percent decrease from the grant in 2010. Thomes said she is hoping to increase that amount this year.

Open Your Heart to the Hungry and the Homeless was started in 1986, by employees of the Minnesota Department of Jobs and Training. Employees wanted to raise money and food for Minnesota food shelves and in doing so, raised public awareness of food shelf needs. That resulted in a payroll deduction campaign.

Through the first campaign, a $26,000 grant was made available to the Emergency Fund Service. That has grown to the group providing more than $750,000 annually to the state’s food shelves and shelters.

Funds may be dropped off, or mailed to, the Morrison County Food Shelf at 912 First Ave. S. W., Little Falls, MN, 56345 during the month of July. PayPal payments are also available.

For more information about the Open Your Heart to the Hungry and Homeless Challenge Grant, contact Thomes at [email protected] or call (320) 632-8304.