Food shelves seeing an increase in clients

Donations during FoodShare Month fluctuated throughout the county 

By Tina SnellStaff Writer

The 31st annual March FoodShare Month was for the most part, a successful campaign to help stock the shelves of local food shelves and to ensure food throughout the year.

Cash donations to the Morrison County Food Shelf in Little Falls this year came to $49,180 and 16,644 pounds of food also came in. Cash donations dropped by 13.8 percent from 2012 when the food shelf received $57,022. The actual food donated remained about the same.

“We had late donations for FoodShare Month of about $3,000 that could not be included in the count,” said Executive Director Gloria Thomes.

In the last six months, Thomes said her clients have been steady. April saw 370 families coming in for food, an average count.

“But, 197 people in April were here for the first time this year,” she said.

The Motley Food Shelf had cash donations totalling $20,848 and food donations of 90 pounds.

The cash increased this year by $1,646 from $18,160 in 2012, or 9 percent. The food donated decreased by 2,283 pounds or 96 percent from last year.

“We have seen a 20 percent increase during the first quarter of 2013 as compared to the first quarter of 2012. Most of the increase is due to individuals,” said Executive Director Sharon Stone.

During the 2013 March FoodShare  Drive, the Pierz Food Shelf brought in 1,516 pounds of food, a 914 pound decrease from 2012. It also saw donations of $5,917, an increase of $3,148 from last year, or 113 percent more.

“There has been a definite increase in my clients from last year,” said Executive Director Bernadette Stangl.

She said she is also seeing an increase in retired people, which bothers her.

“Every time they come in, they apologize. They have a lot of pride,” she said.

Nearly $8.4 million and almost 4 million pounds of food was collected across the state. With the food collected and the combined buying power of the donations, more than 37 million pounds of food will be distributed by local food shelves.

The March drive is the only statewide effort of its kind and raises more than half the food distributed annually by local food shelves. Also, Minnesota FoodShare administers a food fund distributed to local food shelves in August. Last year $900,000 was disbursed to 286 food shelves.