As groceries costs rise, so does use of food shelves – Park Rapids Enterprise

According to the Wall Street Journal on July 13, inflation recently hit a 40-year high of 9.1%.

Food rack manager Bob Hansen said, compared to last year, food rack usage is much higher.

“With subsidies, free lunches for all students, and other government aid during the pandemic, we’ve lost about 40 percent of our customers,” he said. “Now we are seeing that reversal. The number of our customers is going up. The comments I have heard is that it is a combination of government cutting back on what they were getting and increasing prices for groceries, gas and medicine.”

Many people don’t realize they qualify to use a food rack, Hansen said.

“The guiding principles we fall under are if someone makes 300% of the poverty level, they will qualify. That comes out to $38,640 for a family of one. Many people, if they are struggling, are likely to qualify – especially the elderly. who have a fixed income. People should not choose between eating food or paying for medicines.”

Hansen said the use of food shelves has increased even more for older adults. And look at the number of customers served from January to June of this year compared to the same period in 2021.

The largest increase was a 43% increase in unique-use visits to individuals 65 and older. There was a 24.4% increase in the 18-64 age group and a 16% increase for those receiving food from birth to age 17 years.

“The unique visits are the first time someone has come this year,” he explained. “We received a total of 585 home visits this year, up from 433 last year. This is 152 more visits during the first five months of this year than we had last year for the same time period, a 35% increase.”

The dining rack is located at 308 Pleasant Ave. S. is in Park Rapids and is open from 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays.

The first time a person visits a food rack, they fill out a registration form. Those who are enrolled in other programs such as WIC, SNAP, General Assistance, Head Start, Energy Assistance, Free and Reduced Lunch or various other programs, are asked no more questions about income.

Home delivery is also available and provided by volunteers. “They need to call the schedule,” Hansen said.

In addition to the monthly “full-service” cart of groceries that participants receive at the food rack, they can also stop by and pick up additional items available in the lobby for the remaining three weeks after 1 p.m., such as baked goods and fresh produce.

Volunteers needed to pick up groceries

Hugos, Coborns, and Walmart all donate products to the food rack.

“They are kind enough to pass on items near their expiration date to us,” Hansen said. And they are different every day: meat, chilled dairy products, vegetables, bakeries, and more. I am looking for people to help me with that. I need someone who will be around for at least one day during the summer months. The volunteer who was doing on Tuesday had hip surgery, so he can’t do any lifting, so I was covering for him.”

Volunteers must be able to lift and transport 20 pounds or more of food from the store and bring it to the food rack for offloading. Food is usually picked up between 9 and 10 in the morning

Volunteers are also needed on the food rack from time to time.

Julie Vladbow is a volunteer and board member at Hubbard County Food Shelf.

Shannon Jizzen/Park Rapids Enterprise

“With the spread of COVID and people on vacation, we can also use volunteers to fill our schedule on the food shelf,” Hansen said.

Call Hansen at 218-255-3538 for more information on volunteering or guidelines for using the food rack.

“When it comes to other donations, the best thing people give is cash,” Hansen said. “We can buy food cheaper than they can, so the dollar can stretch further.”

Donations of cash are used to purchase items that the food rack needs but does not get from your local grocery store or food bank.

Donations can be dropped during food storage hours or checks mailed to Hubbard County Food Shelf, 308 Pleasant Ave. S., Park Rapids, MN, 56470.

Gardeners may also drop extra vegetables during food storage hours.

“There are a couple of families that specifically raise produce to distribute on the food shelf,” he said. We also usually get some donations from farmers markets during the summer.

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