CAER helped couple facing mounting medical bills

by Joni Astrup

Associate Editor

Joe turned to the Community Aid Elk River food shelf about a year and a half ago when he couldn’t keep up with mounting medical bills.

His wife had Parkinson’s disease and, as it got worse, the hospital bills piled up. By the time he sought help from CAER, they were on the verge of losing their home in Elk River.

Joe said he had never gone to a food shelf before, and going there initially wasn’t easy.

“It was really hard the first few times, but they always made me feel comfortable,” he said.

Between CAER and help from other sources like their kids, Joe said they were able to keep their house.

“CAER has helped tremendously and those people are so nice there,” he said.

His wife has since passed away. Joe doesn’t need to use CAER as often, and stops in about once a month now if finances are a little short. He said they tell him he can pick out 60 items, but he usually takes about 25 — things like coffee, canned goods and milk.

“I take no more than I absolutely need,” he said. “Just a little boost is all I need.”

A native of Coon Rapids, Joe worked as a printer for 36 years. After retiring, he and his wife moved to northern Minnesota. They stayed there until her health required them to be closer to medical care. Seven years ago, they moved to Elk River.

Several of their five children live in the area. They also have nine grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.

March food drive raises $75,000 so far

March is Minnesota FoodShare Month, and a communitywide drive is on to raise money and collect food for CAER.

As of Wednesday, CAER had raised $75,000 toward its $125,000 goal for Minnesota FoodShare Month.

The last day for donations is Friday, April 4.

For more information about CAER, visit, call 763-441-1020 or visit the food shelf at 19279 Watson St., Elk River.