Our Opinion: Pay it forward to food shelves
One of the latest good fads has been to buy another person’s food, either in line at the checkout of a grocery store or in line at a drive-through of a fast-food restaurant. Typically, the person in front buys the food for the person behind them. It is part of the “paying it forward” concept of kindness.
To be sure, this is good. It is wonderful that people are that nice to each other.
But if someone wants to do true good when it comes to food, the real need is for people getting their meals from groceries stored at local food shelves. Mower County has the Austin Salvation Army Food Shelf and a food shelf at Little Ceder Lutheran Church in Adams. There’s also the Channel One Food Shelf in Rochester, which immensely helps area food shelves stay stocked when local donations aren’t doing the job.
Give dollars to them, and you will rest assured the funding bought food for people in need. There is more of a need for food-shelf groceries than most communities realize. That’s because Minnesota, like much of the country, has gone in the wrong direction when it comes to battling poverty.
With household median income in Minnesota down 9.5 percent in the last 10 years, one in four Minnesotans are left working low-wage jobs, according to a 2014 hunger report from Hunger Solutions. Meanwhile, food prices have risen, along with rent, utilities, health care and car insurance. To make matters worse, fewer people are eligible for food assistance.
All this puts increased pressure on food shelves. Visits to food shelves have gone up from 1.2 million in Minnesota in 2000 to about 3.25 million in 2013. The biggest jump came in 2009, about 500,000 additional visits, at the height of the recession. There has not been a year when the numbers have gone down.
The next time the urge comes to pay it forward when writing a check at a store or a restaurant, consider giving that amount to local food shelves. It will do the most good.