CAER food shelf sets goal of $125,000

March is Minnesota FoodShare Month, and the Community Aid Elk River food shelf is asking the community to help CAER meet its 2014 goal of $125,000 in food and cash donations.

“Since the recession, we’ve seen a steady increase in the number of families who visit CAER, and they visit CAER more often. The use of food support has increased by 144 percent in Sherburne County alone since just before the recession began.  That’s a staggering and sobering number,” said Carmen Pouliot, CAER’s executive director.

CAER distributed 791,000 pounds of food in 2013, and the organization expects that number to rise in 2014.

“This winter has been especially hard,” Pouliot said. “So many families have had to choose between keeping warm or eating. In fact, nearly 35 percent of seniors have had to face that choice. That’s why we’re pushing so hard to reach our goal of $125,000.”

In 2013, CAER came up a little short on the same goal. This year Pouliot said they have added several events to increase interest and make fundraising more fun.

With the Elk River Area School District, CAER has organized “Dine Out for CAER” – an opportunity to enjoy a meal out and support CAER. Three area businesses will donate a portion of their proceeds during one night to CAER. They are:

•Pizza Ranch: March 10, 4:30-8 p.m.

•Pour!: March 17, 6-10 p.m.

•Rockwoods Grill: March 24, 6-10 p.m.

Many organizations are already planning events to raise money and food donations for CAER, she said. McCoy’s Pub in Elk River will hold its 5K Walk/Run for CAER on March 15, and Kaleidoscope Charter School is hosting an Empty Bowl Soup Dinner on March 17.

In addition, Cornerstone Auto Group with Ford Motor Company is hosting “Test Drive for CAER” at the Chamber Business Expo on March 30, during which each test drive of a new Ford raises $20 for CAER.

Minnesota FoodShare Month and the Alan Shawn Feinstein $1 Million National Campaign to End Hunger are extremely important to CAER, Pouliot said.

“It’s the largest donation matching event of the year for CAER. The more we raise, the more we receive,” she said.

According to Pouliot, that money goes a very long way because CAER can leverage $1 into $10 worth of purchasing power.

“Last year that meant nearly $1 million in food support for the area’s hungry,” she said.