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Local view: Food shelves statewide need help from Minnesota Legislature

We with the Aurora Area Food Shelf Committee strongly urge the Minnesota Legislature to increase funding to the statewide support network for local food shelves. The situation at our small-population food shelf offers insights into the wider need.

We with the Aurora Area Food Shelf Committee strongly urge the Minnesota Legislature to increase funding to the statewide support network for local food shelves. The situation at our small-population food shelf offers insights into the wider need.
Our shelf's geographic area encompasses three small towns and a large rural area. Our catchment has a population of 4,500. We provide nutritional support for one out of every nine residents in our area. That includes 195 families, both working families and seniors on fixed incomes, and other financially vulnerable people. We help with nutritional support for close to 150 children. Those we serve built the communities in which they live. They are raising, and have raised, families here. They work hard to keep our communities viable and decent. Food shelves represent a real manifestation of community non-governmental self-reliance. However, we cannot meet our goals without the support the Legislature provides to the statewide food shelf network. Within our communities, organizations and individuals are continuously and vigorously active in securing food and financial donations and in volunteering. Communitywide food drives are organized by Scouts, student groups, fraternal organizations and local businesses that also support community fundraising. An association of local churches pays our facility's rent and hosts nine or more public events each year. Its on-site food collecting has become a community fixture. We also receive critical support from foundations and a fundraising drive sponsored by state Sen. Tom Bakk. Community support goes beyond material generosity. Volunteers put in over 2,500 hours, ensuring we are open and stocked 52 weeks a year. Their dedication to serve with dignity and respect uplifts their neighbors. We recently received a lot of feedback from our clients, much of it a tribute to our volunteers. One of the comments was: "The people who help and volunteer are great. Very helpful and kind. I have never felt like lesser of a person or inferior." Our goals are to serve a growing client base by delivering adequate and balanced nutritional support and to ensure that we do so long-term. Our situation is not unique, for food shelves throughout Northeastern Minnesota and the state face the same growing needs and the pressure to sustain service. There are no "days off" when the need is compelling. We hope to see action this legislative session on this appeal.   Jerry M. Kosanovich of Aurora is a member of the Aurora Area Food Shelf Committee.We with the Aurora Area Food Shelf Committee strongly urge the Minnesota Legislature to increase funding to the statewide support network for local food shelves. The situation at our small-population food shelf offers insights into the wider need.
Our shelf's geographic area encompasses three small towns and a large rural area. Our catchment has a population of 4,500. We provide nutritional support for one out of every nine residents in our area. That includes 195 families, both working families and seniors on fixed incomes, and other financially vulnerable people. We help with nutritional support for close to 150 children. Those we serve built the communities in which they live. They are raising, and have raised, families here. They work hard to keep our communities viable and decent.Food shelves represent a real manifestation of community non-governmental self-reliance. However, we cannot meet our goals without the support the Legislature provides to the statewide food shelf network.Within our communities, organizations and individuals are continuously and vigorously active in securing food and financial donations and in volunteering. Communitywide food drives are organized by Scouts, student groups, fraternal organizations and local businesses that also support community fundraising.An association of local churches pays our facility's rent and hosts nine or more public events each year. Its on-site food collecting has become a community fixture. We also receive critical support from foundations and a fundraising drive sponsored by state Sen. Tom Bakk.Community support goes beyond material generosity. Volunteers put in over 2,500 hours, ensuring we are open and stocked 52 weeks a year. Their dedication to serve with dignity and respect uplifts their neighbors. We recently received a lot of feedback from our clients, much of it a tribute to our volunteers. One of the comments was: "The people who help and volunteer are great. Very helpful and kind. I have never felt like lesser of a person or inferior."Our goals are to serve a growing client base by delivering adequate and balanced nutritional support and to ensure that we do so long-term. Our situation is not unique, for food shelves throughout Northeastern Minnesota and the state face the same growing needs and the pressure to sustain service.There are no "days off" when the need is compelling.We hope to see action this legislative session on this appeal. Jerry M. Kosanovich of Aurora is a member of the Aurora Area Food Shelf Committee.

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