Parishes power Minnesota FoodShare March Campaign

| March 17, 2017 | 0 Comments

Jake Lynch, a parishioner of St. Edward in Bloomington, delivers donated food from the parish weekly to Volunteers Enlisted to Assist People, a food shelf in Bloomington. St. Edward is among the many parishes in the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis participating in the Minnesota FoodShare March Campaign. Dave Hrbacek/The Catholic Spirit

Retired basketball coach Jake Lynch is engaged in a new form of March Madness, having traded one kind of basket for another.

Lynch, a parishioner of St. Edward in Bloomington, once coached boys basketball at Jefferson High School for four state title teams between 1976 and 1987. He also saw one of his sons, Kevin, play for the University of Minnesota in two NCAA tournaments in 1989 and 1990. Jake’s grandson, Reggie, also recently helped the Gophers reach this year’s tournament, which Jake watched on TV.

For Lynch, 82, March is now filled with transporting donated baskets of food weekly from St. Edward to Volunteers Enlisted to Assist People, a Bloomington food shelf, as part of the Minnesota FoodShare March Campaign. The Greater Minneapolis Council of Churches-sponsored campaign aids 300 food shelves statewide with food and funding each March.

Ten parishes of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis contribute as registered participants regularly to the food drive, which began in 1982. Other parishes participate without registering, said Megan Young, the Minnesota FoodShare program administration coordinator.

According to its website, Minnesota FoodShare has given more than 16 million dollars of food to food shelves. The 2016 campaign brought in 5.2 million pounds of food — the weight of 1,500 cars.

Many archdiocesan parishes help their local food shelves throughout the year too, including participation in Minnesota FoodShare’s Harvest Campaign in the fall. St. Edward parish won one of the Harvest Campaign’s Golden Beet awards for the Harvest Campaign in 2016, which goes to churches or volunteers that make healthy food more available to food shelf patrons.

Lynch sees the parish food drives as something bigger than himself. He said St. Edward has been donating to a food shelf since the late Bishop Paul Dudley founded the parish in 1967, and the parish donates lots of food year-round.

“It picks [in March] up because we encourage it a little bit more right now,” Lynch said.

St. Richard in Richfield also contributes to VEAP throughout the year but ramps up its support during the March campaign, said Jolaine Liupakka, the parish’ director of pastoral care.

VEAP serves the communities of Richfield, Bloomington and Edina. Many other food shelves reap the same benefits from churches during March.

St. Francis of Assisi in Lake St. Croix Beach brings donations to the Valley Outreach Food Shelf in Stillwater. Cindy Buckland, the parish’s faith formation coordinator, leads the March food drive and seeks to involve the whole parish. Parishioners bring donations to Masses and faith formation classes. She said involvement really picked up after their confirmation retreat March 3-5 and with the return of senior citizen parishioners who have been south for the winter months.

Food donation bags disappear quickly before St. Paul in Ham Lake officially begins its two-week March drive. The parish does quarterly food drives and brings in a quarter more food in March, said Judy Van Den Broeke, the coordinator of pastoral ministry and outreach.

Christina Maas, the music and liturgical environment coordinator at St. Margaret Mary in Golden Valley, sees a generous response to the March drive she coordinates. The parishioners fill a 4-by-12-foot bin of food for PRISM food shelf in Golden Valley.

“It’s overflowing,” Maas said. “People have really gotten accustomed to the ritual of almsgiving” during Lent.

Lynch, who transports the food from St. Edward weekly throughout the year to VEAP and volunteers there, too, said the corporal work of mercy to feed the hungry has motivated his work for the past 25 years. He’s continued that work each week on top of caring for his wife, Jane, who recently suffered a stroke.

“I’m not as active as I was before with VEAP, [but] I still get over there and deliver food,” he said.



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