Watertown food shelf receives $9k donation

The Friends for Life food shelf is located on the south corner of the parking lot in City Hall. CCN/Hannah Broadbent

by HANNAH BROADBENT
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The Friends for Life Food Shelf in Watertown received a $9,500 donation from the Mound Masonic Lodge this past week.
The Lodge raised money by matching donations made to the food shelf in a six week span. Donations were made locally and put it a bank account dedicated to the shelf’s donations.
“Grateful for the all around support of so many various groups and individuals who help on an ongoing basis,” said Food Shelf Administrator Linda Johnson.
According to Johnson the shelf has been active since 1988. Johnson herself has been involved, off and on in various ways since it’s opening. Johnson says the shelf was opened by a coalition of local churches who saw the need.
Johnson says now the food shelf gets about 60 percent of its supplies from suppliers and the remaining 30 percent from donations. She said cash is the most usable donation because then the shelf can get exactly what it needs. Johnson says the money donated will be enough to buy food to last for about five months.
“A lot of people face short term and long term difficulties,” Johnson said. “We like to be able to fill in the gap.”
According to Johnson the food shelf regularly feeds about 53 families per month now. A number that has gone down from the years 2012-2015. Johnson said those years were peak, a time when people were still recovering from the 2009 recession.
“If we can relieve some of their food needs then they can have a little more gasoline, medication school supplies, whatever it is,” she said.
Johnson said sometimes mid-summer can be a really busy time, otherwise there isn’t a huge flux of clients.
She says the amount of food given to clients is based on household size. Johnson said the shelf gives about four thousand pounds of food per month.
“Everything a grocery store would have, we have,” she said.
Johnson said as far as donations she has regular supporters in every sector including schools, churches, kids groups, individuals, civic groups and businesses. She said the food shelf does get grants from larger corporations.
This is the second time they have received a donation from the Masonic Lodge.
She says they rely on donations and the coalition of churches for support. According to Johnson the shelf has about 20 regular volunteers, which is a perfect amount she said. The shelf is not allocated any money from government entities but they are thankful for the space from the city.
“We’re a pretty small operation,” she said. “We do have special needs we’d like to fill.”
Johnson said she knows there are some people who can’t get to the shelf. She’d love to have some volunteer drivers to help. Johnson says all support is appreciated.
“Thank you to all who donated,” she said. “We don’t know who you are, we can’t send a thank you card, so a big thank you.”