Since 2000, the number of families served by the Community Action Center’s Food Shelf has steadily grown to nearly 450 households each month. And, as Program Director Judy Bickel notes, with a huge base of support, the organization has been able to maintain (and even increase!) the amount of food distributed to each family as well as expand its hours to offer service four days each week – Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday.
In addition, the organization, with the support of Habitat for Humanity volunteers, recently completed renovations to its Food Shelf and Clothes Closet, just in time to support a growing number of clients and make room for increased donations during the Community Action Center’s March FoodShare campaign.
Bickel says, “There’s a lot of good happening in Northfield. Donors continue to recognize the importance of contributing tangible goods and monetary resources to the Food Shelf, and Cub Foods, Econofoods, and Just Food Co-op have stepped up in a big way, donating thousands of pounds of fresh produce and other foods each month.”
According to Bickel’s estimates, Cub donates just over 14,000 pounds of food each month, mostly fresh produce. While clients are welcome to visit the Food Shelf once a month for staples – foods such as canned fruits, vegetables and juices, cereal and rice, meat, dry beans, and peanut butter – because of the limited shelf-life of produce, Food Shelf patrons are welcome during the last hour of each service day to select from the remaining produce.
“What we hear from our clients is true elation,” remarks Bickel. “They can’t believe how wonderful it is to have access to such a tremendous supply of fresh food. We’re incredibly grateful for our local grocers’ generosity. During this economy it has helped families stretch their food budgets further.”
In addition to offering Community Action Center clients a bigger space to shop, expanded service hours and a greater quantity of food, the organization has worked with St. Peter’s Lutheran Church to establish the Angel Food Ministries program. Through the Angel Food Ministries program, families are able to purchase nutritious food at deeply discounted prices. According to Site Manager Deborah Ward, the program has helped augment the work of the Food Shelf.
Ward says, “The Angel Food Ministries program will, in no way, ‘replace’ the Food Shelf. It’s another resource that can help families make ends meet.”
Each month coordinators at St. Peter’s take orders from families, and the food is made available for pick up on the second-to-last Saturday of each month. One of Angel Food Ministries’ signature boxes includes an assortment of meat, eggs, beans, vegetables, rice, milk, and eggs to feed a family of four for about a week for just $31. There is no limit on the number of boxes a family can purchase, but all orders must be paid for in advance. The program is open to anyone in the community.
Jim Blaha, executive director of the Community Action Center, is delighted to see such a resource available to Northfielders. “We’re thrilled to be able to refer people to this growing program that will offer nutritious meals at a fraction of the price of what it might cost to purchase the items.”
While the Angel Food Ministries program at St. Peter’s has only served families for a few months, interest is growing and Ward asks the entire community to spread the word to those who would benefit from the program. “For so many of the families we’re serving, this program has proven to be a real blessing.”
For more information about the Angel Food Ministries program, or to place an order, please contact Deborah Ward by email or by calling 507.581.0952.
To make a donation to the Community Action Center’s Food Shelf, please contact the Community Action Center.