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Food Shelf Co-Directors Carol Aspengren and Mary Ann Hagen look through aisles of donated groceries January 2011. The continuing poor economy has prompted food shelf need to remain high. PJ file photo

Food shelf in need, communities asked to help

News Wadena,Minnesota 56482
Wadena PJ
Food shelf in need, communities asked to help
Wadena Minnesota 314 S. Jefferson 56482

The Wadena Food Shelf has seen increased usage over the last several months, and it is looking to communities around its service area to pitch in.

"The number of clients that we've served has gone up every single month," Food Shelf Co-Director Mary Ann Hagen said.

Food shelf clients increased for months straight since May, with August being the highest month so far. Hagen said donations also tend to be lower in the warmer months, since fall and winter donations are associated with holidays and tax deductions.

The food shelf is for emergencies, and each household may stop in once every 30 days, so statistics are not duplicated within the same month. The amount of food a household receives is supposed to hold them over for three days.

Hagen said Wal-Mart gives them donations three days a week, and other public and private donations also keep them going.

Hagen sent a letter to city governments in Wadena's service area requesting help with rent.

"Most food shelves are at churches or at a free facility," Hagen said. "We do pay rent and utilities - which would buy a lot of food."

The letter stated the Wadena Housing and Redevelopment Authority (WHRA) had funded $500 a month, or $6,000 a year, for their rent at 205 Ash Ave. SE, the former WATCO printing plant, and was now going to allocate $3,000.

WHRA Executive Director Dianne Rousslang said the lower allocation was not due to budget cuts, but was a matter of phasing out of a temporary arrangement.

For years, the food shelf occupied space for free at the Commercial Apartments building, but outgrew that space and relocated to the new location. Rousslang said the WHRA was helping with the rent until the food shelf became more financially independent, and this year, the food shelf would look for other financial support and return to WHRA if they still needed help after the first six months.

Besides residents of Wadena, the food shelf also serves residents of Aldrich, Bluffton, Deer Creek and Verndale. Rural residents who live outside the city limits of these communities should have the town's name on their driver's license, rent receipt or other form of identification, Hagen said.

"That was a request to their towns to help us out if they can because we're helping their people out," Hagen said.

Other nearby towns, like Sebeka, Hewitt and Bertha, are connected to other area food shelves.

The food shelf's letter and request was discussed at the Deer Creek City Council on Monday evening, with the council approving a motion to pitch in $500.

Deer Creek resident Todd Defoe said he knows people from the community have benefitted from the Wadena Food Shelf.

Deer Creek Mayor Julie Brunko said as long as Deer Creek residents can use the food shelf too, it was a worthwhile contribution.

The Wadena Food Shelf encourages donations of non-perishable goods, but has also accepted produce.

Both donors and clients may stop in at the food shelf on Monday and Thursday mornings from 9-11:45 a.m., and the second and fourth Wednesday evenings from 5-6:30 p.m.