FoodShare launches program to feed hungry

This article submitted by Linda Stelling on 03/11/97.

Neighbors have been helping neighbors in Paynesville since 1985 when the Paynesville Food Shelf opened.

1997 marks the 15th year Minnesota FoodShare is setting out to feed hungry Minnesotans. During the March campaign, FoodShare salutes the communities: religious, business, civic and many individuals who have worked tirelessly to raise over 53 million pounds of food.

This year the goal is to collect 3.5 million pounds of food to restock participating foodshelves around the state. The more donations a foodshelf raises on its own during March, the larger their share of money/food donations from Minnesota FoodShare will be.

In Paynesville last year, more than 16 tons or 32,713 pounds of food was used by area families. Ruth Aulick, food shelf director, said the client number increased from about 35 to 40 families in 1995 to 50-55 last year. This equals between 150 and 180 total family members.

ďDuring the holidays (December) the number of families helped were over 70,Ē Aulick added. The local food shelf is staffed by volunteers from area churches. Each week between 10 and 12 volunteers help families with their grocery needs.

ďFamilies come in and we give them an inventory list which contains 66 to 75 items. They check off what they need and then volunteers take shopping carts around the foodshelf and shop for them,Ē Aulick explained. Items on the inventory include: baking supplies, personal nonfood items, canned vegetables, dry foods, refrigerated foods, baby needs and household nonfood items.

Aulick said at a recent meeting, it was stressed that as governments do less for the poor, the churches will need to give more. Churches already give a lot but with welfare cuts they will be looked to for more assistance. With the welfare changes, food stamp recipients will no longer receive increases to offset inflation; unemployed people ages 18 to 50 who are not disabled and are not raising dependent children will receive food stamps for a maximum of three months in every three-year period and most legal immigrants can no longer receive food stamps. Where will these people turn, their local food shelves, Aulick added.

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