Waconia United Food Shelf celebrates 10 years

By Greta Sowles

The Waconia United Food Shelf has been serving the community for 10 years. In July, Open Your Heart will match funds donated to the food shelf up to $5,000. The summer is traditionally a slow time for donations so now is a great time to consider making a donation. (Patriot photo by Todd Moen)

The Waconia United Food Shelf has been serving the community for 10 years. In July, Open Your Heart will match funds donated to the food shelf up to $5,000. The summer is traditionally a slow time for donations so now is a great time to consider making a donation. (Patriot photo by Todd Moen)

June 2013 was a landmark for the Waconia United Food Shelf, as it celebrates 10 years of active service to the residents of Independent School District 110, Victoria and Cologne. The food shelf currently serves around 300 families a month, totaling over 400 visits, and distributes between 28,000-30,000 pounds of food a month.
The food shelf is open five days a week, from 9 to 11:45 a.m. on Monday, Friday and Saturday and from 4 to 6:45 p.m. on Tuesday and Thursday. Its primary goal is to distribute food, but it also distributes personal care and hygiene items. The food shelf refers out for most of its supportive services, but it does have a Salvation Army social worker available to meet with clients on the second and fourth Friday of every month.
There is minimal paperwork that clients are required to fill out upon arrival because the food shelf receives federal products. Clients are required to show a valid ID and proof of residence in the Waconia Food Shelf’s catchment area. Those who need food assistance may register and shop on the same day. The Waconia Food Shelf is a choice based food shelf, meaning clients can take a shopping cart and choose their own food. The amount of food clients are able to take is dependent on the number of members in the family.
Marty Cramer, one of the food shelf’s five league coordinators and a liaison between the board of directors and the coordinators, has been with the Waconia Food Shelf from nearly the beginning. She emphasized that donations are particularly necessary during the summer months because children are not in school.
“We always welcome donations, either food or monetary,” said Cramer, who added that people are welcome to bring donations during the food shelf’s open hours. It is best to call ahead for large donations because weighing the donations when clients are shopping makes everything back locked.
In addition to individual food donations, the food shelf receives margarine, bread and bakery items from Mackenthun’s, produce from Target, and groceries and eggs from KwikTrip. The food shelf receives the bulk of its food from Second Harvest, the Upper Midwest’s largest hunger relief organization.
“We like to use the local vendors as much as possible,” said Cramer.
Cramer also stressed the need for personal care and hygiene item donations, including shampoo, deodorant and toothpaste, and infant items, such as formula, baby food and diapers of all sizes. She also added that the food shelf does accept donations of clean produce during the summer months.
To help the lull of the summer months, the Waconia United Food Shelf is working with Open Your Heart to the Hungry and Homeless in the 4th annual Food Shelf Challenge Grant. During July, Open Your Heart will match funds donated to the Waconia Food Shelf up to $5,000. According to Open Your Heart, “$55 will purchase 450 pounds of food from Second Harvest and feed 3 families of 3 for 6 days.”
During the summer months, the Waconia United Food Shelf gives paper bags filled with extra cereal, macaroni and cheese, peanut butter and jelly and granola bars to each family with a school-aged child. The family also receives an extra milk and extra meat for the month.
“Additional money helps to purchase the things we need to be able to do that,” said Cramer.
The Waconia Food Shelf graciously receives donations from various contributors around the community, including the rotary, the Lions Club, the fire department and other local organizations, such as schools, churches and the scouts.
“We are just so fortunate to have so many people, both organizations and individuals that support the food shelf,” said Cramer.
Cramer added that the food shelf is proud of how it has kept up over the years and made improvements to make it appear welcoming to those in need. To celebrate the 10-year anniversary, the food shelf’s board of directors will be doing some long-range planning, looking in to how to improve and sustain what they now have.
The Waconia Patriot is joining this mission to help relieve hunger. The Patriot will be holding a food drive from Thursday, July 11 through Friday, July 26. You can bring food and cash donations to the Patriot office anytime between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. during these two weeks. As incentive to give, one will receive the chance to win a four-pack of tickets to Muller Family Theatres with every bag of groceries and/or every donation of $10 or more.
Help your food shelf today!

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