According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), one in 10 Minnesotans experiences what is known as food insecurity. Food security, as defined by the USDA is “access by all people at all times to enough food for an active, healthy lifestyle.”

Naturally, the opposite of that is food insecurity, which is lack of access to adequate food.

That is a reality right here in the Redwood Area.

It is also why food shelf organizations exist.

That is also why the annual event known as Freezin’ For Food is held each year. This year that effort for area food shelf organizations is Dec. 5-7 – Wednesday, Thursday and Friday of this week.

According to Tina Klinkner of Kohls-Weelborg Ford in Redwood Falls, who has been involved in coordinating Freezin’ For Food since it began 15 years ago, it was Brett Weelborg who came up with the idea a decade and a half ago after learning about a similar program.

“Our goal that first year was 5,000,” said Klinkner.

No one knew what kind of response would come from the community that first year, but after seeing thousands of pounds of food come in that year the event has continued to be held and keeps growing.

Over the years the food and cash donations have accumulated, so that to date 311,470 have been collected and distributed to the food shelf organizations in Redwood Falls (the Redwood Area Food Shelf), Morgan (We Care), Wabasso (WAFER), in Olivia (the Renville County Food Shelf) and the Lower Sioux (Lower Sioux Food Agency).

Items may be dropped off at Kohls-Weelborg Ford in Redwood Falls Wednesday and Thursday from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. and Friday from 9 a.m. until 3 p.m.

Those donations may also be dropped off at Salfer’s Food Center in Wabasso, Becker’s Super Valu in Morgan and B&D Market in Olivia.

The goal is to hit the 20,000 mark in food and cash donations, said Klinkner, who said one year ago that goal was exceeded.

“The biggest year we ever had was 2006,” said Klinkner, adding it would be great to beat that number. That year the total food and cash donations was 26,188.

Those shopping in Redwood Falls can stop by Tersteeg’s to purchase pre-packaged bags to donate.

Cindy Mumme of the Redwood Area Food Shelf said the need for donations continues in the area. In addition to food and cash donations, which are always appreciated, Mumme said there is also a need for hygiene products.

“The numbers are not going away,” said Mumme, adding while those who use the food shelf may change from month to month the number of people using the food shelf continues to be high.

Donations are needed throughout the year, but Mumme said food drives like this one have a huge impact and really help them get through the winter months.

Mumme expressed appreciation for those who have donated over the years and to those who will donate. Volunteers are still needed to help with Freezin’ For Food.

Those who can help even doing a couple of hours during the three-day event are encouraged to contact Klinkner at Kohls-Weelborg Ford at (507) 644-2931.

Everyone is encouraged to give during the 15th annual Freezin’ For Food.