Weather Forecast


Be a Hero

The Red Wing Area Food Shelf has a lot of support from local businesses, churches, organizations and individuals, the nonprofit said. But this month, it is aiming to amp that up even more.

March is Minnesota FoodShare Month, a statewide campaign to encourage monetary and food donations to nearly 300 food shelves. The theme is “Be a Hero. Fight Hunger.”

This year, the Red Wing food shelf is aiming to collect $20,000 and 12,000 pounds of food, said Joe Lommel.

The food shelf has various sources for its products, including individual, corporate and organization donations of food and funds, items from local restaurants, the Channel One food bank in Rochester where it can buy food at a discounted rate and local grocery stores.

“We really rely on churches and businesses and civic organizations and individual contributions,” Lommel said.

Still, sometimes it can run short between deliveries or because certain items are especially popular.

The food shelf appreciates food donations, but also can get a good “bang for our buck” from money as well, Lommel said.

“That really helps us out because we can buy stuff from Channel One and have it delivered right to our door,” he said, adding the organization also gets to stretch its dollars at the Rochester food bank. “We can get four times as much food for a dollar.”

The food shelf also has to pay rent and cover costs at its site, he added.

For those who want to contribute, Lommel said it’s best to bring donations to the food shelf, at 1755 Old West Main St., when it’s open. But those interested also can drop off food in a donation box on-site or mail checks or money.

Many churches and local organizations also collect food for the food shelf.

'Tremendous outpouring of support’

While the food shelf is looking to meet its collection goals this month, it is grateful for all the donations — of food, money and time — it’s already gotten, Lommel said.

“We’ve gotten a tremendous outpouring of support from the public,” he said. “It’s just so heartening that folks are donating so nicely, and donating of their time as volunteers to allow us to keep the doors open.”

Residents never know when they or someone they know might hit hard times and need to use services such as the food shelf, Lommel said.

“The majority of the people we serve are from working families,” he said. “They find themselves in circumstances where they’re not making ends meet.”

And generally the community has rallied to support those people, Lommel said. The food shelf is a nonprofit whose staff, from day-to-day employees to board members, is unpaid.

“We have over 120 volunteers who work on a week–to-week basis with the food shelf to do the things that have to be done to be able to send food out the door with folks who are needing it,” he said.

Items needed:

Any monetary or food donation is appreciated, the Red Wing Area Food Shelf says, but the organization often runs low on:

• Peanut butter

• Jelly

• Canned fruit

• Soups and stews

• Canned pasta

Red Wing Area Food Shelf key information:

• Hours: Tuesday and Thursday from 4 to 6 p.m., Friday from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

• Address: 1755 Old West Main St.

• Phone number: 651-388-9302 (during open hours)

Food shelf 2013 stats

Current president Joe Lommel said the Red Wing Area Food Shelf serves a variety of people, but not often long-term. In 2013,

• Almost 1,100 households utilized the food shelf

• Nearly 300,000 pounds of food were distributed

• 44 percent of those fed from the food shelf are children

• 74 percent of visitors came three times or fewer

• Only 6 percent visited the food shelf more than nine times during the year. Customers are allowed to come in once a month to get a week’s worth of groceries, and visits are tracked.

Danielle Killey

Danielle Killey covers local government for the South Washington County Bulletin. She has worked as a reporter for other Forum Communications newspapers since 2011. She graduated from the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities with a journalism degree.

(651) 459-4629