BY DAVE ENGHUSEN, GROVELAND FOOD SHELF DIRECTOR
March is when winter begins loosening its grip. For us at the Groveland Food Shelf, March and December are the most important months to refill our coffers. In March, we also can benefit from a proportional match provided by the Minnesota FoodShare organization. When you see the envelopes in the pews, please give generously.
The need for food is growing. In 2019, Groveland saw a 13% increase over 2018 and the highest numbers since the Great Recession. Jobs are available, so why the increase? There is a sizable portion of Groveland’s customers who are retired or suffering from disabilities or other issues that make returning to work difficult. The larger portion do work, however. We don’t know for sure, but anecdotal evidence points to the sharp rise in housing costs. For example, one client was a pregnant woman with one child who found herself without housing because her building had been sold. It was being converted to senior housing. She was in her early 30s, had finished school with a vocational degree and was working in that field part-time and doing guard work part-time. Her income did not qualify her for housing in the area she was familiar with. She felt punished for doing the right thing.
For Groveland, too, over the past year much has changed. We receive food seven days a week with generous donations from Kowalski’s, Trader Joe’s, Lunds and a number of smaller cafes and bakeries. This food rescue provides goods that may have a short shelf life but are often more nutritious than food we’ve been able to provide in the past. Yet, it also is very labor-intensive because we need to sort, verify the food is good and, if it goes bad before being taken, to compost and dispose of it. We also offer clothing provided by Old School by Steeple People across the street.
This year will bring more changes. We hope to add a person and vehicle to help us with these challenges. We’ll continue to evolve as we have since 1975 when Plymouth first founded the food shelf. Your generous contributions of time and money help us help others. You touch the lives of thousands of people with few resources and few options. They and we are grateful.