Chaska and Eden Prairie Food Shelves
To many families, summer means a release from school year pressure, and a time for fun. There are growing numbers of families, however, for whom summer means an additional financial burden, and not the kind that comes with camp or activity fees. “In the summer, need is higher because the kids on free and reduced lunches aren’t getting fed at school, and families experience increased costs because of more meals at home and snacks,” says Anne Harnack, from the PROP Food Shelf in Eden Prairie. “Families who maybe only use us once every few months the rest of the year increase their requests.”
Most area food shelves see the same kind of increase in demand, which is compounded by a supply-side situation. “Your summer months aren’t any less as far as people that need assistance, but you experience a down trend in donations,” say Tom Redman, chairman of the Bountiful Basket food shelf board in Chaska. Harnack agrees, adding, “[Donors] don’t think of hunger in the summer. We are working on getting more businesses and civic groups involved in summer time.”
Donations of cash and food usually reach a high point during the months of November and December when people often associate generosity with food; and during March, Minnesota’s FoodShare month when many faith organizations, businesses and civic groups sponsor food drives. The cash donations received then help stretch resources during low donation months, but with summertime’s increased demand there is always need for more.
Redman and Harnack emphasize that food shelves are meant as a supplement to a struggling family’s resources, not as the main source of food, but both are seeing increased requests. In Bountiful Basket’s case, part of the increase in demand is a result of a recent relocation. “After 4 years in the same place, our lease was going to end in 2011,” Redman says. After some temporary moves, the organization and the city of Chaska agreed that Bountiful Baskets could, after some renovation, take over the old water treatment plant at 1600 Bavaria Rd.
“The first time we went there,” Redman says, “the pump was running and it was really loud. Some volunteers looked at us like we were crazy, but we put a wall around the pump and put in some acoustics and now you can’t even hear it. Everyone loves it. We opened up on February 20th. Since we publicized in relation to our move, there are a lot of new families coming in that weren’t aware of us before, and there are new donors, too.”
Harnack says that people struggling to find sufficient employment make up a large number of their new clients, but that about 20 percent of the people they serve are elderly and disabled, who regularly rely on PROP for help. “Overall, about 50 percent of the approximately 4,000 people we serve annually are children,” she says. “We want to support families to keep their children healthy; in particular we need donations of healthy snacks and items for an easy meal, such as cereal, oatmeal, granola bars and juice.”
What can you do to help? Food shelves rely on volunteers, donations of food and cash donations. Call or check the website for information on needed items and when and where to drop off donations, or find out more about volunteer opportunities. Remember that cash donations are tax deductible and that for every $1 donated, food shelves can buy $9 worth of food. Invite friends and co-workers to join you to magnify your efforts. As Redman says, “People who have a need for assistance are an important part of any community, and every community should have the responsibility to step up and ask what they are doing to meet that need.
Southwest Metro Food Shelves
- Bountiful Basket in Chaska, open four days a week; 952.556.0244
- PROP Food Shelf in Eden Prairie, open five days a week; 952.937.9120
- Chaska Food Shelf (ministry of Oasis Church), open two days a month; 952.960.0142
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