Need – verb – requiring (something) because it is essential or very important
More Minnesotans this holiday season are coming to terms with the depths of that definition, and food shelves near Edina are planning to be ready to meet it.
The need: One in 10 Minnesotans and one in four children are now using a food shelf.
“The people using food shelves today are not who you’d expect,” says Lindsi Gish of the Second Harvest Heartland food bank. “They are very literally our neighbors. The widow who thought her retirement savings would be enough, but the stock market turned; parents who lost one of their incomes. They are strapped and having to make choices on paying the bills or putting food on the table.”
A solution: If you are able, volunteer at or donate to nearby food shelves.
“I thought it was important to get involved—actually physically involved—in the community I live in,” says Edina resident Barbara Halloran, a three-year volunteer at Volunteers Enlisted to Assist People (VEAP), an organization which runs the state’s largest food shelf in Bloomington.
Between gifts and travel, the holidays can add more stress to an already difficult economic time, so VEAP and other food shelves in Bloomington and Minneapolis roll up their sleeves during the holidays. They offer additional programs, coupons and deliveries.
“The holiday season is tough, so there is some extra assistance needed at that time,” Gish says.
At VEAP, providing that extra assistance comes on top of an already steady uptick in demand for services.
“We are seeing more [repeat clients] every month, and more new people, so more of everything,” says Susan Russell Freeman, executive director of VEAP for more than 30 years.
During the holidays, VEAP delivers meals to seniors and also offers a holiday toy store where families can pick up gifts for their children free of charge.
Halloran saw how VEAP was stretched thin last holiday season. Usually at the holiday store, it’s one book given to each child. Last year, it was a book per family.
“It will be interesting to see what happens this year because now demand is even higher,” Halloran says.
Terri Ellis of Edina, who has volunteered at VEAP off and on since 1993, stresses the equaling need for more volunteers.
“I do it because of the need … and anytime we do something we get more back than we give,” Ellis says. “The need is really out there for volunteers. I encourage people to go out and see what they can do to help.”
Ellis says VEAP is a top-flight group that is efficient and committed. A joy to work with, she says. “They bend over backwards to be accommodating,” she adds. “They are considerate and helpful. It’s a very rewarding experience.”
The demands on Second Harvest Heartland have doubled in the last five years, Gish says, and the food bank and the food shelves it supplies are doing what they can to meet the need.
“Call your local programs to see the specific needs in your local organizations,” Gish implores.
Volunteer – noun – a person who freely offers to take part in an enterprise or task
If you are looking to help area food shelves, many organizations can help you.
Call the United Way hotline at 211 or visit the food shelf finder at hungersolutions.org.
“Call your local program to see specific needs,” said Lindsi Gish of the food bank Second Harvest Heartland.
Here’s a short list of shelves near Edina:
Aliveness Project’s Food Shelf, 730 E. 38th St., Mpls., 612.824.5433
“We always accept non-perishable food and hygiene items,” says executive director Joe Larson.
Calvary Lutheran Church Emergency Food Shelf, 3901 Chicago Ave. S., Mpls., 612.827.2504
“We get more people around the holidays,” says food shelf coordinator Henrietta Williams.
Incarnation Church Food Shelf, 3817 Pleasant Ave. S., Mpls., 612.822.2101
“[The clients] approach and say, ‘Where would I be without you?” says food shelf director Lynette Dzwonkowski. “I say, ‘That’s what we’re here for.’”
St. Vincenet de Paul Society and Food Shelf, St. Bonaventure Catholic Church, 901 E. 90th St., Bloomington, 952.854.4733
“We will take anything we can give away,” says parish secretary Joan Deluney.
Volunteers Enlisted to Assist People, 9728 Irving Ave. S., Mpls., 952.888.9616
“We are seeing increases every month,” says executive director Susan Russell Freeman.