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On Wednesday, Thrivent Financial do-nated nearly $800 worth of food to the Wadena Food Shelf. Pictured here are, from left, Mary Ann Hagen, co-director of the Wadena Food Shelf, Bob Mueller, financial associate at Thrivent Financial, and Maxine Erickson, representing Thrivent's Todd-Wadena Chapter Board. Photo by Zach Kayser

Feeding the hungry in Wadena

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Although most people are counting down the days until Christmas, when they can enjoy the bounty and festivities of a new holiday season, many area families are instead counting the amount of resources left before they can no longer put dinner on the table at all.


That's where the Wadena Food Shelf comes in.

Mary Ann Hagen and Mary Pierce have been co-directors of the food shelf for about three years. Their data puts the average amount of families that use the food there at 150 per month. What makes that figure dire is the fact that the Wadena location is an emergency food shelf, meaning the families can only come once a month.

Hagen remembers the mother of one particular family quite well, even though they came in six months ago.

"A young mom ... said 'I have never had to do this before, but my husband lost his job, and we have no food in the house left to feed our kids,'" Hagen remembered. "That's why the food shelf is there."

Hagen said the number of needy people visiting the shelf tends to go up during the holiday season, but so does the amount of donations.

One such donation this year was nearly $800 worth of food weighing 873 pounds, provided by the Wadena-Todd County chapter of Thrivent Financial. Financial Associate Bob Mueller said since Thrivent is a nonprofit organization, it uses the money it would have paid in income taxes to go toward charitable causes. For four years, he said, those causes have included the Wadena Food Shelf.

"Seems like in the economic times we're living in, there seems to be more and more people in need," he said.

Hagen advises those wishing to donate to the Wadena Food Shelf to bring in their donations during the shelf's normal hours, which are Monday and Thursday from 9-11:45 a.m. Non-perishable items are preferred, such as canned goods, paper products, health products and other items that do not spoil.