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Willmar Area Food Shelf donations fall below 2014 goal

WILLMAR — Cash and food donated during the March FoodShare campaign fell below the Willmar Area Food Shelf’s 2014 goal. But this year’s donations exceeded 2013’s donations.

Executive Director Christie Kurth said the 2014 goal was 200,000 combined dollars and pounds.

The results this year were $87,103 and 77,118 pounds, giving the food shelf a combined total of 164,221.

“We fell a little short,’’ said Kurth. “We knew going into this year that we were setting our goal very high.’’

In 2013, the food shelf collected $94,000 and 59,000 pounds for a combined total of 153,000, she said.

“So we did end up higher with the combined total, but a little bit less cash and little bit more pounds,’’ she said.

One reason for the cash results might be that the Woodbury Chorus and Orchestra concert, a fundraising event, will be held later in April rather than in March.

However, Kurth is pleased with this year’s results.

“We increased by about 11,000 combined, so that’s significant. That’s a good increase,’’ she said. “We’re pleased with where it landed and we know that we will make up that difference at the concert or within the next few months.’’

Kurth said the food shelf is very excited to have the event, set for 4 p.m. April 27 at Bethel Lutheran Church.

“We know that it’s going to be a good springtime Sunday afternoon event for families to come out,’’ she said.

Kari Goldschmidt, assistant director of marketing and fund development, said the food shelf has promoted the idea of donating cash. The food shelf has a partnership with Second Harvest Heartland food bank that allows the food shelf to buy food at discount prices.

By “stretching your dollar,’’ $10 feeds a family of three for three days.

“I think as much as we have tried to educate people on the significance of donating the dollar, we did see this big increase in pounds this year,’’ said Goldschmidt.

“But I think that’s a blessing as well because (it’s) those food donations that come in on a daily basis that really keep our shelves stocked with a good variety,’’ said Goldschmidt.

“We don’t ever want people to quit donating food because it is an important piece of our everyday operation. I think we’ll continue to educate people on the value of the dollar. But we appreciate the food donations as well.’’

Each March, Minnesota FoodShare directs the March campaign, the largest food drive in the state and restocks 300 food shelves across Minnesota. It recruits thousands of congregations, companies, schools and civic groups to run local food and fund drives to aid in the effort.

The Willmar food shelf operates three sites: downtown Willmar (opened in 1982); New London (opened in 2009); and Ridgewater College (opened this past fall).

 The food shelf has two full-time employees and four part-time employees. More than 100 volunteers provided 14,900 hours of work (equivalent to 7.2 full-time employees) valued at $326,459 in 2013.

David Little
David Little covers the Willmar City Council, Willmar Municipal Utilities and other city news.
(320) 235-1150