Hunger is a real problem in every community. Those of us who have the opportunity to fill up our grocery carts every week may not realize that some of our neighbors live day to day not knowing where their next meal will come from. Sadly, many families must choose between keeping their heat on and putting groceries on their table.
In Minnesota, 1 out of every 11 people struggles with hunger. Minnesota Food shelves were visited a record of over 3 million times in 2017. The five food shelves in Dakota County alone had a 12 percent increase in visits last year. An article earlier this year in the St. Paul Pioneer Press noted that at one Apple Valley school, students who qualified for subsidized meals rose by 380 percent from 2005 to 2015. And it is not just families with young children that are impacted. Seniors are the fastest growing demographic visiting food shelves and even college students, that have very little resources when they are away at school, find themselves in need of food shelf services.
Battling hunger in our communities is something that we can do together. One of the easiest ways to do this is to donate to your local food shelf. That can be as easy as picking up a pre-packaged Food Donation bag at your local grocery store or donating items to food drives at places in your community such as your job, your church or your child’s school. You can also donate directly to your local food shelf. (For more information on donation locations in Dakota County, visit 360 Communities.) All Stars Montessori is currently holding their annual food drive and all donations will be delivered to the 360 Communities Family Resource Center in Rosemount.
Besides donating food and other items, you can also help your local food shelf by volunteering your time. Volunteers are needed to help with scheduling appointments, greeting customers, stocking shelves, and much more. For more information on current volunteer needs for food shelves in the Dakota County area, visit 360 Communities’ Get Involved page.
During the season of giving and all year around, don’t miss the opportunities to teach your child how they can help people in need. If you are going to donate food to a local food shelf, have your child help you shop for the food. If you are going to volunteer your time, talk to your child about what you will be doing and how it will help others. Some volunteer positions may even allow older children to participate.
In whatever way you choose to help, remember that every little bit makes a difference! If we all do our part, we can help to meet the basic needs of the children and families in our community.
If you plan to donate, consider the following is list of most needed items according to 360 Communities: