Become a Hunger Hero: March is Food Shelf Month

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Last month I read an article about Piper & Violet, two first-graders from St. Paul. They are twin sisters who are also Hunger Heroes. March is Food Shelf Month – the largest food drive in Minnesota that helps to restock nearly 300 food shelves across the state. Last year, as kindergartners, Piper & Violet decided to conduct a food drive in their St. Anthony Park neighborhood. They made flyers and encouraged their classmates to help out. In the end, they collected 87 bags of food.

Each March, Minnesota FoodShare kicks off a campaign to promote food shelf donations. They are also very hard at work the other eleven months of the year helping families get food and educating everyone about hunger in Minnesota. According to Suzanne Shatila, the Director of Minnesota FoodShare, in 2013 they raised $8,353,022 and 3,991,348 pounds of food across the state during the March Campaign. “Additionally, Minnesota FoodShare distributed $775,000 to the 288 food shelves that participated in the March Campaign from our Food Fund, which we collect donations for throughout the year. All the money that is distributed goes directly to Minnesota food shelves to help buy food for Minnesotans in need.”

She went on to tell me that, “currently, about 1 in 10 Minnesotan households are experiencing some level of hunger, or food insecurity. Many of these households have children living in them and many have a working adult. There were over 3 million food shelf visits in Minnesota in 2012 and about 40% of the visitors were kids.”

I think it’s cool that so many people take the time to help out their neighbors who are unable to buy enough food for their families. Everyone needs food to keep his or her body healthy. Kids need food so their bodies can grow and adults need food so that they have the energy to work and to take care of their families.

With so many people in need it’s a good idea to help out if you can. You could make donations directly to your local food shelf. Kids could ask their teachers for help in organizing a food drive at their school. There are also churches, businesses and organizations within your own neighborhood that are already part of the Minnesota FoodShare campaign that would appreciate your help.

Each year, the youth group at Shir Tikvah organizes a food drive. In 2012, the congregation was celebrating their 25th anniversary so they set a goal of collecting 2,500 pounds of food. Prior to this, they annually collected about 2,000 pounds. That year they not only met their goal, they doubled it by delivering 5,000 pounds of food to the Sabathani Community Center. Last month, my mom and I conducted our own mini-food drive at my birthday party. When we sent out invitations we encouraged people to bring canned goods and other non-perishable items instead of presents. It was a good deal because Shir Tikvah got more donations for their food drive and us kids got pizza and played games.

This month become a Hunger Hero yourself to ensure that “local food shelves throughout the state are supported in their compassionate efforts to feed the hungry in their communities.”

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