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Five Loaves Food Shelf in need of more help

Volunteers help to stock the shelves at the Five Loaves Food Shelf after they delivered a load of food as part of the New Richmond Area Chamber of Commerce’s Food Drive Kick Off event on Wednesday, Nov. 20. (Photo by Jordan Willi)

Despite a large influx of food courtesy of the New Richmond Area Chamber of Commerce’s Food Drive Kickoff competition, the Five Loaves Food Shelf in New Richmond is still in need of more help and food, according to Five Loaves Food Shelf Board Chairman Chet McCarty.

“I can say that our need has increased, even with the improvements in the economy,” McCarty said. “Also, with kids back in school you would expect there to be less need, but that isn’t the case. People on food stamps are receiving less, and we are doing what we can to help.”

The more than 3,400 pounds of food collected during the Food Drive Kick Off competition will feed a large number of people, but it is only a start. The Five Loaves Food Shelf is looking to continue to raise funds and collect more food in order to meet the increase in demand that has hit the food shelf over the last year.

“We are getting a start on fundraising, but it is just the tip of the iceberg,” McCarty said. “We are trying to develop a needs list to give out to people putting on food drives to give food to us so that we get what we need, not just whatever people can give to the drive.”

Another complication for the food shelf is the change in season, which means fresh fruits, cheese and vegetables will be less and less abundant. The food shelf can also use more canned meats, such as chicken or tuna since that is the only way many people can get their protein during the winter months.

“The fresh fruits and such that people can’t get otherwise are harder to come by during the winter, which means we are looking for other types of foods to be donated during the winter,” McCarty said. “It is also important that we get donations of things other than food, like toilet paper or diapers because people who get food stamps don’t get paper products, which makes things hard for them. Those things might be every day to us, but they are extremely important to others.”

Also changing with the seasons is the food shelf’s needs, which makes donations even more important, especially money donations. One thing that most people might not know about the food shelf, according to McCarty, is that monetary donations are almost more helpful than food donations.

“Because we can purchase things cheaper as a food shelf than people can buy them in the store, $1 donated to the food shelf goes a lot farther than one can of food can,” McCarty said. “That doesn’t mean we don’t need the food donations, but there are times when donations of paper products might do more good for more people. We don’t buy paper products most times, so we are relying heavily on other people to donate the non-food products that people need.”

The Five Loaves Food Shelf recently received a $25,000 grant from the Bremer Foundation, which will go toward hiring two part-time employees for the food shelf, including an operations manager, as well as a person to coordinate the shelf’s fundraising efforts.

“The people we are hiring are being paid all through the grant money, not with any money that was donated to the shelf,” McCarty said. “We are not sure where we are on the positions as of now, but it is possible we may add those positions in the near future.”

Along with adding two new staff members, McCarty is hoping to work on offering more nutritional options for the people who come to the food shelf.

“Another area I am hoping to work on is purchasing and offering things that are more nutritionally sound at the food shelf,” McCarty said. “We are going to stop purchasing anything that is not nutritional in some way, but we will still take other things that are donated. We just want to be more nutritional with the things we purchase for the food shelf.”

Jordan Willi
Jordan Willi is a reporter for the New Richmond News. Previously, he worked as a sports reporter at the Worthington Daily Globe in Worthington, Minnesota. He also interned at the Hudson Star Observer for two summers and contributed to the Bison Illustrated sports magazine at North Dakota State University.
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