Thursday, September 20, 2012, was the third busiest day in the history of the Redwood Area Food Shelf.
Unfortunately, that’s not unusual any more. Use of the food shelf is up significantly this year.
“The largest number of families we’ve seen in one day was 28 in two and a half hours,” said Rev. Tim Dean, a volunteer at the food shelf for the past four months.
In September, the Redwood Area Food Shelf distributed 7,529 pounds of food.
That doesn’t include donated produce from peoples’ gardens, such as tomatoes. potatoes, and squash.
Cindy Mumme, co-director of the Redwood Area Food Shelf, said, “In the first part of 2012, we were giving out right around 6,200 pounds of food a month. Now we’re up to 8,000.”
One hundred and fifty-five families/individuals took supplies from the food shelf in September.
That would be 155 separate families or individuals — clients are limited to one visit a month.
“We might realistically be supplying them with a week’s worth of food, not a month’s” said Dean. “We’re just a bridge to get them over a hump.”
Unemployment and high food prices are reasons the volunteers hear the clients talk about most.
Dean said, “I’ve seen people who have moved back to Redwood Falls from Minneapolis because it’s too expensive to live there. They came back to a small town because they have family here.”
As the term “Redwood Area” implies, many of the families and individuals who make use of the food shelf are from Morton, Franklin, Morgan, and other communities in the area.
Although he hasn’t seen the name “Olivia” on any forms, Dean suspected the fact there was a fire at the Olivia food shelf recently may contribute to the higher numbers.
Wabasso has its own food shelf, so few if any families from the Wabasso area come to Redwood.
Dean was somewhat surprised that so few clients have been over the age of 65.
“Of the 155 who came in last month, only were nine were 65 or older,” he said.
“We are seeing a slight increase in the 65+ age group, which is good,” said Mumme. “They don’t usually come forward to get help much.”
Generous people who want to help might think going to the store to buy donations is the best approach.
Actually, it’s not.
“Someone might say, ‘I’m going to be generous and buy $30 worth of food for the food shelf,’” Dean said. “We can purchase many more times that much food with the cash.”
Page 2 of 2 - Through sources in the Twin Cities, the Redwood Area Food Shelf has access to food at greatly discounted prices.
“We can buy meat at ridiculously low prices, such as 50 cents per pound,” Dean said. “It’s all name brands, donated by places like Cub Foods.”
However, the food shelf is limited to what whatever discounted brands are available at the moment. People who bring in packages of food directly increase the variety the food shelf can give out. With the increased demand, the food shelf hasn’t had to cut the amount of supplies given out.
“Donations are usually down in the summer months. We’re not desperate, but we still need the donations so we can offer our clients food,” Mumme said. “Our need for donations is still strong. We’re so appreciative, and we’re all so lucky to have such a good area for donations.”