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Yolanda Jaimes, right, a volunteer at the Willmar Area Food Shelf, hands canned vegetables Tuesday to an unidentified customer. As the need for assistance continues to grow, the Willmar Area Food Shelf hopes to raise 250,000 pounds of food and dollars through the Minnesota FoodShare Campaign, now in its 30th year. Tribune photo by Gary Miller
Yolanda Jaimes, right, a volunteer at the Willmar Area Food Shelf, hands canned vegetables Tuesday to an unidentified customer. As the need for assistance continues to grow, the Willmar Area Food Shelf hopes to raise 250,000 pounds of food and dollars through the Minnesota FoodShare Campaign, now in its 30th year. Tribune photo by Gary Miller

Need for food assistance has grown every year since food shelf was organized 30 years ago in Willmar, Minn.

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news Willmar, 56201

Willmar Minnesota 2208 Trott Ave. SW / P.O. Box 839 56201

WILLMAR -- The Willmar Area Food Shelf has set an ambitious fundraising goal of a quarter million pounds of food and dollars during the 30th annual Minnesota FoodShare Campaign.

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The March campaign helps restock Minnesota's 300 food shelves.

"Last year we ended up at the very last day of the campaign at over 220,000 pounds and dollars,'' says Christie Kurth, Willmar Food Shelf executive director. "This year our big goal is going to be 250,000 pounds and dollars.''

The need for food assistance has grown every year since the food shelf was organized in 1982.

In September 2009, a branch office was added in New London.

From 2010 to 2011, combined service levels at both sites rose 13 percent from 8,091 families (households) served in 2010 to 9,274 families (households) served in 2011.

The Willmar site at 624 Pacific Ave. S.W. served 8,638 families (households) and the New London site at 206 Main St. served 636 families (households).

The food shelf obtains food from a variety of sources: donations from local gardeners, events and grocery stores; and purchases from local grocery stores and distributors.

Kurth says the food shelf mixes and matches food donations to provide balanced, nutritious meals. During the 2011 campaign, the food shelf received over 120,000 pounds of donated food, or about one-eighth of what was distributed in 2011.

But cash donations are even more helpful, according to Kurth. She says the food shelf can stretch every donated dollar by purchasing food from Second Harvest Food Bank for a low maintenance fee of 4 to 16 cents per pound of food.

"If you donate $5 to the Willmar Area Food Shelf, we can use that cash plus the other donations we receive through the local grocery stores or through Second Harvest and stretch that and feed a family of 3 for three days,'' says Kurth.

During all of 2011, the food shelf received $240,657 in cash and grants. Of that amount, 81.3 percent was raised locally.

"It's great to get the food and I knows that makes excitement in your workplace, but also the cash is something that we can really use and go farther with it,'' she said.

The food shelf benefits from grants, fundraisers and food-raisers sponsored by businesses, churches and organizations.

On March 9, Jennie-O Turkey Store of Willmar pledged $15,000 to help meet this year's goal, said Kurth. The grant is Jennie-O's largest and will help cover anticipated additional expenses due to continued demand.

Other Jennie-O donations in 2010 and 2011 were used for a walk-in cooler/freezer, which was installed last year and replaces 13 stand-alone freezers.

The theme for this year's campaign is Be A Hero, Fight Hunger.

"We know that there are so many people out there and already there has been a lot of advertising with events and people are getting excited,'' said Kurth.

Many churches and businesses are collecting donation for the food shelf and have events scheduled.

Those include:

n West Central Tribune Carriers Drive, March 17.

n Radio For Relief, 6 to 10 a.m., March 23, Willmar Fire Station.

n Sing For Their Supper, 1 p.m., March 24, Jazz N Java.

n Woodbury Chorus and Orchestra, 4 p.m., March 25, Vinje Lutheran Church.

Kurth said the food shelf is trying to stay current with technology in Facebook and is updating its website. Kurth said donors and even some clients enjoy knowing what's happening at the food shelf.

Kurth said clients appreciate the assistance and the donors.

"We have many clients that always try and give back because they are so appreciative of everything that we do,'' she said.

WILLMAR -- The Willmar Area Food Shelf has set an ambitious fundraising goal of a quarter million pounds of food and dollars during the 30th annual Minnesota FoodShare Campaign.

The March campaign helps restock Minnesota's 300 food shelves.

"Last year we ended up at the very last day of the campaign at over 220,000 pounds and dollars,'' says Christie Kurth, Willmar Food Shelf executive director. "This year our big goal is going to be 250,000 pounds and dollars.''

The need for food assistance has grown every year since the food shelf was organized in 1982.

In September 2009, a branch office was added in New London.

From 2010 to 2011, combined service levels at both sites rose 13 percent from 8,091 families (households) served in 2010 to 9,274 families (households) served in 2011.

The Willmar site at 624 Pacific Ave. S.W. served 8,638 families (households) and the New London site at 206 Main St. served 636 families (households).

The food shelf obtains food from a variety of sources: donations from local gardeners, events and grocery stores; and purchases from local grocery stores and distributors.

Kurth says the food shelf mixes and matches food donations to provide balanced, nutritious meals. During the 2011 campaign, the food shelf received over 120,000 pounds of donated food, or about one-eighth of what was distributed in 2011.

But cash donations are even more helpful, according to Kurth. She says the food shelf can stretch every donated dollar by purchasing food from Second Harvest Food Bank for a low maintenance fee of 4 to 16 cents per pound of food.

"If you donate $5 to the Willmar Area Food Shelf, we can use that cash plus the other donations we receive through the local grocery stores or through Second Harvest and stretch that and feed a family of 3 for three days,'' says Kurth.

During all of 2011, the food shelf received $240,657 in cash and grants. Of that amount, 81.3 percent was raised locally.

"It's great to get the food and I knows that makes excitement in your workplace, but also the cash is something that we can really use and go farther with it,'' she said.

The food shelf benefits from grants, fundraisers and food-raisers sponsored by businesses, churches and organizations.

On March 9, Jennie-O Turkey Store of Willmar pledged $15,000 to help meet this year's goal, said Kurth. The grant is Jennie-O's largest and will help cover anticipated additional expenses due to continued demand.

Other Jennie-O donations in 2010 and 2011 were used for a walk-in cooler/freezer, which was installed last year and replaces 13 stand-alone freezers.

The theme for this year's campaign is Be A Hero, Fight Hunger.

"We know that there are so many people out there and already there has been a lot of advertising with events and people are getting excited,'' said Kurth.

Many churches and businesses are collecting donation for the food shelf and have events scheduled.

Those include:

- West Central Tribune Carriers Drive, March 17.

- Radio For Relief, 6 to 10 a.m., March 23, Willmar Fire Station.

- Sing For Their Supper, 1 p.m., March 24, Jazz N Java.

- Woodbury Chorus and Orchestra, 4 p.m., March 25, Vinje Lutheran Church.

Kurth said the food shelf is trying to stay current with technology in Facebook and is updating its website. Kurth said donors and even some clients enjoy knowing what's happening at the food shelf.

Kurth said clients appreciate the assistance and the donors.

"We have many clients that always try and give back because they are so appreciative of everything that we do,'' she said.

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