Today marks the halfway point for the March Campaign, the state’s largest annual food drive, but food and cash donations have only reached a little over ten percent of this year’s goal of $12 million dollars and pounds of food.
March Campaign coordinator Sue Kainz says while it’s always a nail biter, event organizers aren’t panicking just yet.
“We are very close to exactly what we were at last year. Typically, most of the food and cash doesn’t come in until actually the very first week of April. Even with just 1.6 million reported, we really feel good about the campaign.”
Kainz says there are a number of ways to get involved in the effort through workplaces, school, church or community events like concerts or pancake breakfasts.
“That’s lots of things that maybe in the end raise $600-700, but when you add all of those events together, that’s what makes this campaign so special, is that it’s really at the grassroots level. It’s people in communities that really make the difference, that really make sure that those local food shelves are funded and have enough food to help people in their community.”
“Empty Bowl” events are popular throughout the state, says Kainz. With this kind of fundraiser, students from school art classes will make ceramic or pottery bowls that participants choose from to fill with soup in exchange for a donation. She says it’s a great way to get school children involved and showcase local school arts as well.
“It gets the community involved too, because a lot of them will open up the art department and allow people to come in and make bowls, or they find artisans who will donate bowls, and then they find somebody to donate the soup. It’s really a wonderful opportunity for communities to get together.”
This year’s largest Empty Bowl event is hosted by Hopkins Public Schools today, and will feature over a thousand bowls made by local school children and artists, a silent auction, local entertainment, and of course, soup. Their goal is to raise over $60,000.
Kainz explains why March is a great time to donate to Minnesota FoodShare.
“Every dime that is donated during the month of March is then in turn sent back out to food shelves across the state, and must be used to purchase food only. So a lot of people like that this time of year; they know that it’s only going for food.”
Kainz says while food donations are appreciated, cash donations go much further because food shelves can stretch the dollars by purchasing wholesale, or getting discounts from local grocers.
The March Campaign raises more than half the food distributed annually through 300 food shelves across the state. Minnesota Foodshare accepts donations by cash, check, or online at minnesotafoodshare.org