Fight hunger by supporting the MN FoodShare March campaign

| February 15, 2012 | 0 Comments

Jason Adkins, executive director of the Minnesota Catholic Conference, is eager to promote the annual March food and funds campaign by Minnesota FoodShare.

“We’re dealing with tough economic times right now and people are really struggling. The need is as great as it’s been in a long time,” said Adkins, a member of St. Agnes in St. Paul. “We had more than 50 million people on food stamps in this country the last time I checked.”

Sara Nelson-Pallmeyer, Minnesota FoodShare director, said that she “tips her hat” to Adkins and the energy he brought recently to the organization’s council of sponsors, which represent all faith communities.

Minnesota FoodShare is an interfaith collaboration that began in 1982 to address hunger in the metro area. It became a statewide organization three years later.

“It was a collaboration with companies and faith-based groups that realized that there was hunger in their communities and we needed to address it,” Nelson-Pallmeyer said. “It was a way to have a full faith response to hunger.”

The 2010 March campaign raised about $800,000, which Minnesota FoodShare divided among approximately 300 food shelves statewide, she said. According to Hunger Solutions Minnesota, a hunger relief advocacy organization, during 2010, there were 3 million visits to food shelves, with 39 percent of those visits for children under 18 and 9 percent by the elderly. An estimated 65 million pounds of food was distributed.

100 percent to food shelves

“The March campaign raised approximately half of that,” Nelson-Pallmeyer said. “The beauty of the March campaign is that when there are donations to Minnesota FoodShare — general donations or donations from corporations during the month of March — we turn around and give 100 percent of those funds back to the food shelves. We don’t keep any for administration.”

Minnesota FoodShare is encouraging parishes to support their local food shelves during the campaign. The more food and funds that are collected locally during the March campaign and the more people who visit the food shelf next month, the more it will increase the amount shared by Minnesota FoodShare, Nelson-Pallmeyer said.

“If the food shelf shows that it has worked with the community to gain funds and food during the March campaign, we grant them a higher amount of money when we distribute what has been gained here in our office,” she said. Although both food and money are welcomed at food shelves, the agency can make a dollar stretch further than any individual dollar spent at the grocery store.

Adkins said that feeding the hungry is a work of mercy and should be on the hearts and minds of all Catholics.

“Oftentimes, people don’t know where they can give or how to give effectively. By getting the word out about this initiative and giving people an opportunity to make a difference, people’s lives will be changed and people will have an opportunity to put their faith into action,” he said. Supporting the March campaign shows solidarity with people most in need.

“As Scripture says, ‘as you do it for the least of these, you do it for me.’ We can encounter Christ in other people and share a little of our abundance with those in need,” he said.

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5 steps to fight hunger

Do you want to help support Minnesota FoodShare’s March campaign?

  • First: Find someone to champion it, such as the pastor or a lay leader in the parish.
  • Second: Contact the local food shelf to find out what is specifically needed. If the food shelf receives  many Latino people, it may want to provide dried beans or another ethnic food. Maybe it needs laundry detergent or another cleaning product.
  • Third: Research what’s happening with hunger in your community at mnfoodshare.gmcc.org. According to Hunger Solutions Minnesota, a hunger relief advocacy organization (hungersolutions.org), as many as one in 10 families in Minnesota struggles to get food on their plates at some time during the year. In the Twin Cities area, it may be as high as 40 percent of families.
  • Fourth: Speak about hunger to the parish community. Champion the cause by providing education on hunger.
  • Fifth: Do something that energizes people to get involved with the March campaign, such as:

A. Hand out grocery bags with a list of the 10 things most needed at your local food shelf.

B. Plan an empty bowl event. Someone makes a bowl and people attend a soup supper at the parish, where they buy the bowl for a donation to the food shelf and take the bowl home.

C. Challenge parishioners to fill the pastor’s office with donations for the food shelf.

D. Build community in your congregation to fight hunger.

Sara Nelson-Pallmeyer

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