Put food for the hungry on your Christmas gift list

More people than ever are getting their holiday food from local food shelves.

Throughout the Twin Cities area, people who never thought they would go to a food shelf are asking for food. In the suburban area, once thought to be the home of the successful middle class, people reluctantly are going to a food shelf.

Single mothers and those families who have lost their homes are at the mercy of this severe recession.

At the ACBC Food Shelf in Anoka, 60 families a day are being served.

One study tells that this year, 583,000 Minnesotans are in need of food.

Hunger Solutions reports that one in 10 Minnesotans are at risk for hunger.

Since 2008, visits to food shelves have gone up 89 percent; the number using food stamps has risen by 68 percent.

The number of students getting free and reduced-price lunches in the schools grows every week.
The need is obvious, so what can you do?

First preference is to donate money to your food shelf. A dollar can be stretched to buy many dollars of food from food banks.

Kathy Willis of Family Pathways provides food for the needy in the Cambridge, Forest Lake, Wyoming and North Branch areas. She suggests a money donation first. She can buy 24 packages of macaroni and cheese for $7.50, 24 cans of soup for $11.74 and 12 helper meals for $7.50 from her sources.

You can locate your local food shelf by calling the Emergency Food Shelf Network at 763-450-3860.

Donate food to your local food shelf, not just what’s been on your self for months, but recently-purchased food.

Volunteer to work at your local food shelf. They are working non-stop at filling orders for clients.
That’s what you can do now.

In the summer, you can plant an extra row of vegetables in your garden and donate your produce to the food shelf.

You can advocate for the hungry in Minnesota by contacting your state and federal legislators and urging them to support bills that provide food for the hungry.

During this holiday season, take time to remember the hungry in your midst. Remembering those in need is the essence of the Christmas season. — Don Heinzman, ECM Publishers