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Food shelf feeds hundreds

By Staff | Nov 29, 2010

Volunteers spent the morning packing Thanksgiving boxes of food for people in need on Monday, Nov. 22.

One hundred and ninety-seven families had happier, and more filling, Thanksgivings this year with help from the Faribault County Food Shelf.

For 28 years, the food shelf volunteers have been packing and providing Thanksgiving baskets to families who were referred to them. Because the Faribault County Food Shelf is considered an emergency food shelf, recipients must be referred, usually by a minister or social worker, in order to qualify to receive food. The food shelf also prepares special baskets for Christmas and Easter.

Community coordinator Mavis Hilpipre starts preparing for the Thanksgiving basket event about six weeks before the holidays, sending out letters to area churches to remind them to refer families in need.

About three weeks later, she starts figuring out the numbers so she’ll know how much food needs to be ordered. Hilpipre says about 95 percent of the food gets donated — for example, canned vegetables from Seneca and cereal from Kerry — but the rest is ordered from the Channel One food bank out of Rochester and from Juba’s Super Valu in Blue Earth.

“The only way that we can do this is because of the tremendous support of the community,” Hilpipre says.

Volunteer Maury Roe double-checks some boxes to make sure none of them are missing any food items.

Baskets get filled with a variety of everyday foods such as bread, butter, milk, bananas and chips, but also include several Thanksgiving staples, including a holiday meat, stuffing, canned vegetables, potatoes and a casserole mix.

“To ensure that everyone can have a nice holiday meal,” Hilpipre explains.

And Monday morning, volunteers were busy packing up all of the foods to be ready for pick-up.

Arno Wiese of Blue Earth is retired, so he became a regular volunteer at the food shelf, frequently helping with unloading and stocking.

“The more (volunteers) you have, the better off you are,” Wiese says.

That’s definitely the case when there are thousands of pounds of food needing to be packed. Of course, a family of eight is going to receive a larger quantity of food than a family of two, but Hilpipre estimates that the holiday baskets average about 10 pounds of food per person.

She says she’s gotten a lot of positive comments about the extra help the food shelf provides to families during the holidays, and thinks the special baskets are very well received.

“We, lots of times, have people break down in tears and thank us,” she explains. “They’re very grateful.”

Since we’re already immersed in the season, Hilpipre will soon be figuring out plans for the Christmas baskets, aside from keeping busy with everyday food shelf orders.