I want to update you on what’s been happening at the Friends in Need Food Shelf, and what is coming up in the next few months. Minnesota FoodShare makes March a very important month for us. The food and money that we receive in the month of March are partially matched by Minnesota FoodShare and the Feinstein Foundation.
This past year, we experienced our highest client numbers ever! We served 16,600 people, which is over four times what it was 10 years ago. We had 387 new families who have never had to use a food shelf before. We find that the most common reasons clients come here are sudden loss of employment and health issues. We are giving out more food than ever, and we really need your continued support.
If your church, school or business would like to do a food or cash drive, we would be glad to work with you and give you suggestions of needed items. Our phone number is (651) 458-0730. If you would like to send a check, please mail it to Friends in Need, P.O. Box 6, Cottage Grove, MN 55016. As most of you know, money is much more helpful than food as we purchase thousands of dollars of food every month through Second Harvest, where we are able to get much better deals than an individual can get at the grocery store. (Sometimes we are able to get hamburger through Second Harvest for pennies a pound!) Please make sure your money comes to us during the month of March if you want it to count toward FoodShare. We will be happy to pick up large amounts of food, or food can be brought to the food shelf on any Tuesday between 8 a.m. and 5:45 p.m. In addition, we have a drop box for food open all the time at Cub Foods in Cottage Grove.
We want to thank everyone for their wonderful support of our Share the Joy program this past Thanksgiving and Christmas. With your help, we were able to serve 400 families for Thanksgiving and over 550 families for Christmas. We also want to thank all of those who helped make the Holiday Train such a success. Over $52,000 and almost 10,000 pounds of food were collected for the food shelf! We are so happy that this has become an annual event and we appreciate all of the work that goes into it on our behalf. Once again, Cottage Grove was the No. 1 stop with the highest turnout.
Everyone is invited to our annual meeting at the food shelf on Thursday, May 14 at 7:30 p.m. You will have a chance to tour the food shelf and ask any questions that you might have. Refreshments and drinks will be provided. Our location is 255 Third St. in St. Paul Park.
The reason our food shelf is so successful is that we are supported so generously by the community around us. Thrivent Financial for Lutherans has become extremely active in supporting us and we are grateful for their help. Our local businesses, schools and churches are amazing! With Marathon Petroleum providing us with our building and utilities, and the generosity of our donors, we are able to give over 46 pounds of food per person, which is more than double the state average. We couldn’t do this without your amazing support! We are truly a community that cares about those in need and we are so grateful for your generosity.
Michelle Rageth is director of the Friends in Need Food Shelf.