CAER donations topped $109,000 during drive

Community Aid Elk River, the Elk River-based food shelf, received more than $109,700 in food and cash donations for the March FoodShare campaign, CAER officials have announced.

“The generosity of our communities continues to amaze me,” said Carmen Pouliot, CAER’s executive director.

The amount raised is critical because it is used to determine the proportion of matching funds CAER will receive in August, she said.

In 2012, local communities donated $115,000 in food and cash, which was the basis for the $23,218 CAER received in matching funds from Minnesota FoodShare’s Food Fund Incentive and the Alan Shawn Feinstein $1 Million National Campaign to End Hunger.

The $109,700 falls short of CAER’s 2013 goal of $125,000, but Pouliot said they are so grateful for all of the support they receive from the communities CAER serves.

“Nearly 90 percent of CAER’s support, both food and money, comes from the local community, including church groups, individuals, businesses and civic organizations.  We knew we were setting a very ambitious goal for this year’s FoodShare campaign, but we felt it was essential to try because we know the need is there.”

CAER distributed 757,168 pounds of food in 2012, nearly double the amount of food distributed in 2009. That’s almost 800 pounds of food for every hour that CAER is open.

During 2012, CAER had an 11 percent increase in the number of visits to the agency and that doesn’t include the double-digit increases from previous years, Pouliot said. In addition, the cost of food increased more than 20 percent from 2011 through 2012. While some of that extra cost reflects the increased number of client visits, the plain truth is that food just costs more, she said.

“We watch our food prices very carefully and take advantage of good deals wherever we can,” said Pouliot “but the price of items like milk fluctuate almost daily and because there is less free food available from foodbanks and other sources, CAER has had to pay higher prices for more food.”

Many local companies, schools and churches hosted food drives to help CAER meet its 2013 goal.

Coming up is CAER’s sixth annual Golf Classic which will be held on June 19 and is open to anyone wishing to support CAER. For more information about how to sign up, visit CAER’s website at CAER is still seeking sponsors and silent auction items for the event.