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Survey verifies need, impact of Food Shelf

Quote from a Food Shelf client: “There have been a few times my family ate oatmeal for dinner due to no other food. The Food Shelf makes it possible for our family to eat at times.”

Second Harvest North Central Food Bank shared in a recent e-newsletter this statement: “Until the economy truly recovers and there are enough jobs with a living wage, our services and our advocacy will be necessary to keep adequate, healthy food on the tables of our hungry friends and neighbors.”

It is hard to believe there are friends and neighbors who are hungry. We know there are. Through the end of September the food shelf served on average 125 households per month, 413 individuals. Last year, with the assistance of our AmeriCorps VISTA volunteer, we surveyed 100 food shelf clients over a two-month period. We would like to share with you the survey statistics and the comments clients made (in quotes).

“Food Shelf kept me alive to find work.”

We learned that 53 percent of the clients responding have been visiting the food shelf for less than two years and 26 percent visiting between three and four years. These findings reflect our economic situation; few jobs that provide a living wage and many more that are not full time and without benefits. We asked about what barriers prevent clients from increasing their income and learned that 28 percent are dealing with a long-term illness.

When asked if the food shelf kept their family from missing meals, 85 percent responded with a yes.

“They’re there when (work) hours are cut. Earn too much to get help from the state — so it sure helps.”

From all the survey respondents, the client satisfaction rating was excellent. Many comments reflected their appreciation for the service and remarked on how wonderful and helpful the volunteers are. They discussed being able to eat better, feeling blessed and the many times the food shelf has come to the rescue. The only criticism was a need for more toilet paper.

“Food Shelf kept me alive to find work.”

But, ask the volunteers, and they will tell you who the real heroes are. The real heroes are the individuals, service organizations and businesses that financially support our mission — to feed the hungry. We are so grateful for their continued faithful giving. And, unfortunately, the need will only grow deeper after Nov. 1 when SNAP cuts start.

As of Sept 30, the numbers of new client households that have visited the Food Shelf for the first time this year are 70. Your support is needed today so we can meet the needs of tomorrow. Donations to support the Pine River-Backus Food Shelf can be sent to the Pine River-Backus Family Center at P.O. Box 1, Pine River, MN 56471 or visit to find the link to donate online.

“Everyone is so friendly and helpful. We are able to eat better.”

Do you know anyone who could use a few groceries to tide them over? The Pine River-Backus Food Shelf is open from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. every Tuesday and Friday at the First Lutheran Church on Second Street in Pine River.

“It helps to fill the void when we don’t have money for a meal (groceries).”

With Thanksgiving around the corner, we have arranged for our food shelf clients to receive vouchers for turkeys. We want our clients to be able to celebrate with their family and friends. The vouchers will be available during food shelf hours until Nov. 8. They can be redeemed Nov. 11-24 from either Godfreys in Backus or Family Market in Pine River. To learn more about our program and the many services provided through the Pine River-Backus Family Center, call 218-587-4292.

May your harvest basket be filled with blessings for you. We extend to you our sincerest gratitude if you can donate now to share those blessings with neighbors in need.

A parting client quote: “Thank you for your support. It really helped when you don’t know how you’re gonna feed your family.”

Denton (Denny) Newman Jr.
I've worked at the Brainerd Dispatch with various duties since Dec. 7, 1983. Starting off as an Ad Designer and currently Director of Audience Development. The Dispatch has been an interesting and challenging place to work. I'm fortunate to have made many friends, both co-workers and customers.
(218) 855-5889