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County’s food shelves help out

By Staff | Dec 22, 2014

Faribault County is home to three different food shelves, each one of them offering different types of assistance so that users can utilize whichever program works best for his or her needs.

Although each location offers some sort of unique aid, the three Faribault County providers do share one primary trait a hearty stock of donations from county residents.

Another similarity shared between the three programs is that they are all emergency aid food shelves meaning that they distribute two-week supplies of food between two to five times per year.

However, in addition to providing emergency food services, the Wells Area Food Shelf (WAFS) is the only sustaining level food bank in the county.

Located in the basement of the Good Shepherd Lutheran Church in Wells, those needing assistance can ‘shop’ for their food once a month on Tuesdays from 4-6 p.m.

According to co-director Carol Aske, this program survives based on donations from community members as well as assistance from Channel One, a non-profit organization out of Rochester.

“We get some wonderful commodities from the government through Channel One,” says Aske.

She explains that the WAFS receives commodities such as cereal, cheese, fruit and meat through Channel One from the federal government.

“Commodities are free, but we pay for freight, which is minimal considering all that we receive,” says Aske. “When production companies aren’t selling an item as well as they thought and they have a large overflow of product, they’ll donate it to Channel One.”

Aske, along with co-directors Cynthia Matson and Donna Weckwerth, believe that they have seen a great deal of growth over the past several years.

In fact, in November alone, 367 people used the service and 5,180 pounds of food went out the front door.

“There are all sorts of people and families who need food,” said Aske. “The people who you would never expect are those who are sometimes in the toughest situation.”

Aske explains that many who use the food shelf are those who cannot work because of a physical disability. In addition, those who have been laid off from a job or experience a family emergency also utilize the service quite often.

A large majority of those who receive food from any one of the three area food shelves are often speechless when it comes to expressing their gratitude.

“Most families are so thankful to get food from us,”?said Marlene Hanson, community coordinator at the Faribault County Area Food Shelf in Blue Earth.

Other members of the County Food Shelf Board include Peggy Erickson, Jean Wessels, Maury Roe, Dianne Gunhus, Mary Carroll, Dave Drescher and Teri Springer.

Last year, the board teamed up with the Migrant Valley Action Council after some of the board members noticed a significant rise in traffic due to an increase of Hispanic workers who were moving into Blue Earth to work during the summer.

“A lot of times, a family won’t see their first paycheck for two weeks, so they might need some short-term assistance right away,” Hanson explained.

So, with the help of the Migrant Head Start in Winnebago, the food shelf began doing business with El Tio in Blue Earth.

During the summer months specifically, the food shelf began to receive large orders of rice, meseca and pinto beans in order to cater to everyone’s preferences.

“The program has been so well received and we are so grateful that El Tio was willing to help us,” Hanson said.

The county food shelves receive assistance from many local businesses. Kwik Trip donates bananas and potatoes, Walmart donates lightly damaged goods, Juba’s Supervalu hosts the annual KBEW/Darling International Camp-out, and the Winnebago and Wells Marketplace grocery stores donate food during the holidays.