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Sourcewell grant supports Farm-to-Food Shelf program

Program benefits shelves in Pequot Lakes and Pine River.

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Lance Bragstad is participating in Sourcewell's pilot farm to food shelf program announced Aug. 22, 2022.
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STAPLES — Sourcewell, in Staples, recently provided a $50,550 grant to help fund a pilot program designed to bring fresh, local produce to friends and neighbors who frequent the Lakes Area Food Shelf in Pequot Lakes, Pine River Area Food Shelf and the Pine River/Backus CommUnity Meal Program.

The collaborative project – Farm-to-Food Shelf – involves working with Brakstad Farms, of Pequot Lakes, to provide freshly grown produce, picked daily, so that friends and neighbors can eat the healthiest foods possible.

“We are excited to be part of this pilot program because each of these organizations serves families who face hunger every day," Lance Bragstad, owner of Brakstad Farms, said in a news release. "The nutrition our produce provides is what motivates us to help these food shelves and the CommUnity Meal Program. We hope through the Farm-to-Food Shelf pilot program, more farmers will contact us to learn what we are doing, how we are doing it and how they might do something similar.”

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Food shelves do their best to offer nutritious fruits and vegetables such as these. With help of the Sourcewell Farm-to-Food Shelf pilot program, announced Aug. 22, 2022, those offerings may now grow.
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LuAnn Gravelle, director of the Pine River Area Food Shelf, said: “The hydroponic lettuce is so clean and so fresh that one of our shoppers pulled a head out of the cooler and started eating it right away, all the while talking about how delicious it is. After shopping through our aisles of food, he asked if he could take another head of the lettuce. That’s one of the great benefits of Sourcewell’s generous grant. Our friends and neighbors have an abundance of fresh produce, and we are able to provide them with as much fresh produce as they can use.”

Brian Chaffee is chef for the Pine River-Backus CommUnity Meal Program that serves between 250 and 350 families, twice a week. Monday evenings he serves families in Pine River and Thursday evenings he serves families in Backus.

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Chaffee said, “As a chef, it is important to me to make sure we are serving quality food. I can make a great meal out of just about anything – but this fresh produce makes a world of difference.”

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With over 9% inflation, the high cost of gas and lasting impact of the pandemic, many families are struggling. Grandparents are now raising grandchildren. Monthly rent has increased by $650 with little warning for some.

Seniors who survive on Social Security alone are now facing losing their homes because one spouse suffers major health issues. Some parents are caring for adult children with major health issues. Many are forced to decide between buying food or paying bills.

These are some of the individuals who may benefit from this program.

The need has increased dramatically.

“In 2021, Lakes Area Food Shelf served 4,657 people. As of June 31, 2022, we have already served over 5,800 individuals," said Kathy Adams, director of the Lakes Area Food Shelf. "In addition, our food-purchase costs have increased by 62%. The Farm-to-Food Shelf pilot program grant through Sourcewell is allowing us to provide the highest nutrition possible to friends and neighbors – and it is helping us meet the high costs of food each month. We couldn’t do this without Sourcewell’s financial support.”

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Area food shelves do their best to offer healthy produce. With the help of a Farm-to-Food Shelf program announced by Sourcewell on Aug. 22, 2022, those offerings could expand.
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Sourcewell welcomes help for the Farm-to-Food Shelf program. Those in need of food may inquire at the Pine River Backus CommUnity Meal Program, the Pine River Area Food Shelf or Lakes Area Food Shelf.

Brakstad Farms welcomes volunteers to pick produce. Inquiries may be made at 218-839-0048, lafs1@tds.net or LuAnn Gravelle at 218-587-4292 or office@prbfamilycenter.org . Volunteers may also pick produce for their own families.

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Farms that wish to become part of the program may contact contact Lance Bragstad at 218-330-6055 or lance.bragstad@gmail.com.

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Send us your news or story ideas by emailing nancy.vogt@pineandlakes.com or calling 218-855-5877. Be sure to leave a message!
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