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Local food shelf exceeds food goal, misses cash goal during March campaign

Nathan Feucht, a Willmar Area Food Shelf volunteer, helps fill a food order for a client Thursday. The recent March campaign exceeded the food donation goal but fell short on cash — reflecting a trend statewide. Executive Director Christie Kurth says the food shelf receives excellent support from the community, and a fundraising event will be planned for later in the year. (Tribune photo by Ron Adams)

WILLMAR — The 31st annual Minnesota FoodShare campaign in March to raise cash and food to feed needy individuals and families had mixed results for the Willmar Area Food Shelf.

Cash donations fell short of the 2013 cash goal but food donations exceeded the food goal.

Still, 2013 cash and food donations overall were below 2012 cash and food donations.

This year’s food donations exceeded the 50,000-pound goal by 9,066 pounds, but the $150,000 cash goal fell short by about $50,000.

Cash donations in 2012 hit $103,976 and food donations came to 69,238 pounds.

Food Shelf Executive Director Christie Kurth said Willmar’s 2013 lower results were part of a trend in decreased donations to food shelves across the state.

She learned of the trend in talking to a staff member of one of the hunger partners during the FoodShare Campaign luncheon last week in Minneapolis.

“Last year seemed to be a banner year for everyone,’’ said Kurth who attended the luncheon along with office manager Kari Goldschmidt.

“This year there are some food shelves that met or just fell shy. There were a few that went over,’’ Kurth said.

She said Cargill is a new corporate sponsor. She said Cargill brought new energy to the campaign.

“Hopefully we’ll be able to continue that partnership and build on that because they brought a lot of energy and revitalized it in some areas,’’ said Kurth.

Kurth said this year’s goals were lofty but service levels are up 86 percent since 2008.

“When we look back in 2008, we were serving an average of 400 to 500 families in a month. Now on average at the Willmar office, we serve 833 families per month and the New London office is serving about 55 on average per month,’’ Kurth said.

“We went from two full-time staff to three full-time staff and a part-time staff,’’ Kurth continued. “In any given week, we need a minimum of 55 volunteers: 55 slots that we need to fill. Our operation went from a $400,000 operation to almost a $1.2 million a year operation. When you grow that much and that fast, we need the increase because we have to increase staff. We could not do what we’re doing today with just the two people that we had back in 2007-2008.’’

Because the food shelf did not meet the cash goal, the food shelf will definitely be doing a fundraiser sometime in the fall, but on a smaller scale than the March drive, and will continue to bring awareness to the community, she said.

“We are so proud of how Kandiyohi County residents and people in the surrounding communities support us,’’ said Kurth.

She said food shelves in other parts of the state don’t always get that type of support.

“We’re very, very fortunate,’’ she said.

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