Letter to the Editor: October 30, 2013


Why is the food shelf van at the liquor store?
I thought this headline might catch your attention, since some of you may have seen the Food Shelf van parked at the liquor store.
Several months ago a friend sent an e-mail that read something like this. “How does one get a job driving the food shelf van?”
I was curious about his question and then being busy and unorganized I forgot to get back to him. A few weeks later I ran into my friend at the Wright County Swappers meet accompanied by his charming wife. I told him I didn’t understand his e-mail and why was he interested in driving the van. He grinned and stated, “It must have some perks; I see it every week in front of the liquor store.”
I thought he was joking with me and said, “You know why it’s parked there don’t you?” He had no idea. There is a very good reason, I replied; our volunteer picks up empty wine and liquor boxes. These boxes, especially the ones with handles, make excellent food carry-out boxes for our clients. He looked sort of amazed and stated, “Great idea.” I went on to say, in fact, these boxes are being put to better use than what they were intended for in the first place. I then went on to explain, rather than buying paper bags, we go to area bars and liquor stores getting empty boxes. It is our way of recycling. Large boxes that we receive our shipments in that are not useable are flattened and delivered to The Market Place and put into their compactor for recycling. Our fruit and vegetables that go bad are given to an organic farmer as feed for their animals. Very little goes into our dumpster for the land fill. We want to do our part in recycling.
Recently if you have been reading the newspapers you may have read about Minnesota food shelfs doing more to provide healthy food.
We are proud to say we started doing this in earnest last year when we moved into our new premises containing a large walk-in cooler and freezer.
This now allowed us to get abundant supplies of fresh fruit, vegetables, milk, and other dairy products along with beef, pork and chicken rather than just wieners and hamburger.
Many clients are unfamiliar with fresh fruit and vegetables because of their expensive prices, so they were hesitant at first to select these bonus items.
These items are not affordable to many low income earners, and yet our country is faced with obesity because healthy foods are costly. Thanks to donations from the Monticello Target Super Store, Second Harvest and the Emergency Food Shelf Network, we can play our part in providing healthy food choices and combating obesity. Our food selection is “Client Choice” and mothers have the option to select lower sodium and sugar free items. Encouraging our clients to eat healthy is going to take some time but we want to do our part right now. Once a month we have a home economist from the University of Minnesota Extension Office come and demonstrate how to prepare wholesome foods with simple recipes.
Regarding donations, I still get asked, which do you prefer, cash or food? We encourage you to make a cash donation. It’s easy to carry or mail and the best part is cash goes further. Your $20.00 donation allows us to buy approximately $120.00 of food and better yet, it allows us to buy milk, meat, cheese and other perishable items, which we do not receive in food drives. However, we greatly appreciate the food drives and do not discourage them. Also at this time of year if you have excess apples, tomatoes, potatoes, squashes or pumpkins, we will cheerfully accept these and provide a tax deduction receipt.
We are in the midst of preparing for our Thanksgiving. Last year we received a grant for 85 complete Thanksgiving baskets. This year we were cut back to 50 so we have a lot to make up. Fortunately we can make up a Thanksgiving basket including a turkey to feed eight for about $22.00. We already are gathering components as they become available.
In closing I need to tell you about a very dear volunteer who worked for our food shelf for over 22 years. Agnes “Aggie” Dahlin who was 93 years young worked her last shift on Monday, Oct. 14, and on Thursday our “dear Aggie” passed on. Most of our 50 volunteers got to get close to Aggie. She worked two shifts a week and always looked forward to coming in. She never complained about not feeling well, in fact, Aggie never complained about anything. She truly inspired us with her wittiness and charm.  She was a very special lady to us. Aggie, we know you are looking down on us and bless you for allowing us to be your friend. We will miss you and never forget you.
Ed Skomoroh, President 
Annandale Food Shelf