Most people recognize the importance of donating foods to local food shelves. However, monetary donations go much further than what people can purchase themselves.
Carolyn McQueen, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program-Ed educator at the University of Minnesota Extension Services in Brainerd, said: “Our area food shelves are able to stretch $1 much further than us. Because of their access to food banks, they are able to purchase the items their clients are in need of for a fraction of the cost. In fact, for every $1 you donate a food shelf is able to provide five meals.”
“Our food shelf is able to feed about 200 families per month because of the generous donations of money and food items that we receive from the community,” said Rick Pain, president of the Lakes Area Food Shelf (Pequot Lakes) board of directors. “The clients we serve want healthy food options for their family and this campaign will help educate the community on which healthy food items to donate.”
A Crow Wing County Food Shelf Client Survey conducted in 2018 asked clients to self-select the food that is most important to them when visiting the food shelf. The top five foods include meat, dairy products, fresh fruits and vegetables, eggs, and canned fruits and vegetables. The suggested shopping list highlights some healthy food options to donate.
Without the kindness of those in our community, some families would not be able to purchase foods throughout the month. The client survey reported that 72 percent of the people visiting food shelves regularly have an ongoing need/insufficient funds, with 71 percent surveyed making less than $20,000 annually.
“We would like to extend a huge thank you to the collaborating businesses for their continued support of our food shelves in Crow Wing County,” McQueen said. “Because of the community’s help and these local businesses collecting Healthy Foods and Funds, we are able to further our mission in bettering the lives of families across our county.”
Collaborating locations are: Cub Foods in Brainerd and Baxter, Supervalu in Pequot Lakes, Culver’s in Baxter, Walmart in Baxter, Pelican Square in Breezy Point, Emily’s Market Place in Emily, Reed’s Market in Crosslake, Super One in Crosby and Family Foods in Garrison.
Suggested shopping list for food donations
Financial donations go the furthest, but all donations are appreciated and welcome.
• Grains: brown or wild rice; quinoa or couscous; wheat berries, amaranth, teff; steel cut or rolled oats; whole wheat or brown rice pastas; whole grain cereals.
• Proteins: canned cold-water fish, including sardines, tuna, wild salmon; canned beans and legumes, including black beans, garbanzo beans, aduki beans, kidney beans, lentils; nuts and seeds, including pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, almonds, walnuts, cashews; nut butters (natural and non-hydrogenated), including almond, peanut, macadamia or tahini butter.
• Fruit and vegetables: canned fruit and vegetables (low sodium, packed in water not syrup); dried fruits, preferably with no added sugar; canned soups (low sodium); fresh produce.
• Herbs and spices: green, white tea; herbs and spices, including oregano, basil, black pepper, garlic powder, rosemary, thyme, dill; olive oil, canola oil and sesame oil.