Monday, February 24, 2014

30th Anniversary Series - 1 Note from Ellen

When I reflect on the history of the Grand Rapids Food Shelf, which began to serve community members in need back in 1984, I have to think about the thousands of people who have been helped through the last 30 years.  The Food Shelf started as a grass roots effort led by a by a group of compassionate and concerned citizens.  It exists today as a program of Second Harvest North Central Food Bank, and continues to meet the needs of people who, through our program, can access food for free at times when they would not be able to adequately feed themselves or their children without our help.  Many feel ashamed that they have to come, and often they choose to leave food items that they are offered, because they believe others may need them more.

Many people do not understand why people need to use a food shelf, or do not believe that hunger is a prevalent problem in our community.  To anyone who has a doubt, I invite you to spend a day in the Food Shelf volunteering and talking to clients.  They are not “those people”.  They are as varied as any group of people can be.  Most of them work at least a part time job, sometimes several, and try their best to get by.  Still, the money runs out before the month is over, and with many essential bills to pay, there is often nothing left for expensive groceries.  Voila – hunger and missed meals!

Volunteers do the bulk of the work it takes to run the Food Shelf and stay open 5 days a week. They are a wonderful group of people who enjoy interacting in caring and positive ways with each and every person who comes through our doors.  Clients most always express their sincere gratitude and relief - not only go home with food, but to feel like others care and our willing to help without judgment.  After all, life offers no guarantees.  Couldn’t any one of us find ourselves in a vulnerable position one day, and be one of “those people”?

Ellen Christmas, Program Manager

30th Anniversary Series

To commemorate our 30th year of feeding the hungry in north central Minnesota we will be doing a series of 30 blog posts. These posts will be from all different perspectives - staff, volunteers, board members, donors, and clients. The first post will be coming soon.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Food Banks serving Minnesota unite in asking farmers to pledge to invest an acre

A big factor in battling hunger in rural communities might just be the people who are already feeding the world.

Six food banks serving Minnesota are asking farmers to participate in Feeding America's Invest an Acre program by pledging revenue from their 2014 crop, with the goal of having 1,000 acres pledged in Minnesota this year. The Invest an Acre program is simple: Farmers are asked to visit and pledge the revenue from an acre, bushel or any amount of their 2014 crop to help fight hunger in their own communities.

When harvest nears, farmers will be reminded to go online to create a donation form to bring to their local elevator with their grain donation. One hundred percent of the donation stays in the farmer's community, and all of the money goes directly to buy food for hungry families. The Monsanto Company matches the farmer's donation, dollar for dollar, up to $675,000, doubling the impact.

"Families who live in our rural regions where food is grown face a number of challenges that put them at even greater risk of hunger, including a lack of transportation, more remote social service agencies and tight employment," says Rob Zeaske, chief executive officer of Second Harvest Heartland. "Farmers already play such a crucial role in ending hunger in the state, and the Invest an Acre program gives them the opportunity to combat hunger in their local communities."
Hunger is an often hidden problem that is affecting seniors, working families and children in rural as well as metro areas — one in 10 Minnesotans is at risk of missing a meal on any given day. Invest an Acre is part of a larger initiative to actively engage farmers in combating hunger, Harvest to End Hunger MN.

The second arm of the program is Share Fresh MN, a fresh-produce donation program that accepts unharvested or unsold produce from farmers.

After donating for the first time to his local food bank, corn farmer Gary Pahl of Pahl Farms in Apple Valley, Minn., said, "With everybody's combined efforts, we can make a difference in this world. We can make a difference locally and on a statewide basis."

The coalition of participating food banks includes Channel One Regional Food Bank, Great Plains Food Bank, North Country Food Bank, Inc., Second Harvest Heartland, Second Harvest North Central Food Bank and Second Harvest Northern Lakes Food Bank.

To learn more about Invest an Acre and Harvest to End Hunger MN, visit

About Harvest to End Hunger MN - Every community has "hidden hungry" who are struggling to gain stability during tough times. The six Feeding America food banks serving local regions in Minnesota have joined forces to offer farmers simple ways to help fight hunger in their local communities. Participating food banks include Channel One Regional Food Bank, Great Plains Food Bank, North Country Food Bank, Inc., Second Harvest Heartland, Second Harvest North Central Food Bank and Second Harvest Northern Lakes Food Bank. Through the program, farmers can donate revenue from a portion of their non-edible crops and/or donate excess produce crops that will go to food banks and food shelves locally. For more information, visit

About Feeding America - Feeding America is a nationwide network of more than 200 food banks that leads the fight against hunger in the United States. Together, we provide food to more than 37 million people through 61,000 food pantries, soup kitchens, and shelters in communities across America. Feeding America also supports programs that improve food security among the people we serve; educates the public about the problem of hunger; and advocates for legislation that protects people from going hungry. Individuals, charities, businesses and government all have a role in ending hunger. Donate. Volunteer. Advocate. Educate. Together we can solve hunger. Visit Find us on Facebook at or follow us on Twitter at