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Wadena Area Food Shelf sees uncommonly high use

The start of school and the poor economy are affecting the Wadena Food Shelf, according to organizers.

The typical 30 or so families who visited on Mondays rose to more than 70 families in one day a couple of times recently, volunteer Jeanette Baymler said.

"And 50 isn't uncommon anymore," she said.

One of the high use days with more than 70 served occurred the week after the food shelf was closed for Labor Day, Baymler said. She was not aware of a particular reason why the other above 70 day happened.

Sharon McLeod, food shelf director, said use always rises in September when parents have spent all their money buying new clothes and school supplies for their children. The economy is also not good. People say things are getting better, but she doesn't see that around here, she said.

Demand is high and food shelf organizers are thankful for those who donate.

Baymler complimented the citizens of Wadena.

"From kids who put a can of soup in a box at school to fraternal organizations that give us $1,000 to churches, it's really amazing how many local places donate," she said.

The Boy Scouts recently had a very successful campaign and brought in more than a ton of food, McLeod said. That large amount of food won't last long, though, she said.

Wal-Mart has been really supportive, McLeod said.

The store is partnering with Feeding America and donates food three times a week to the food shelf, Baymler said.

"We have no idea what it's going to be until it shows up," she said.

They've gotten staples like eggs, milk and meat. They've gotten some fun foods, too, Baymler said. She thought it was a little frivolous when some big decorated cakes came in until she saw a child's reaction when she gave one to a family.

"That child was so happy that I thought, well, I shouldn't be so critical," she said.

Mason Brothers has also been good to them, Baymler said. And the food shelf also fills in items they need by buying from the wholesaler.

Cash is always needed, McLeod said. The money can go farther where she spends it, she said. The food shelf gets food from the North Country food bank in Crookston for 16 cents a pound. USDA products are 14 cents a pound. People interested in making monetary donations can write checks out to Project Share of Wadena or the Wadena Food Shelf and send to McLeod at 1042 Northwest Fir Ave., Wadena, MN, 56482.

"Most everyone around here is related, if not, we're all neighbors," McLeod said. "We all need to take care of each other."

The Wadena Food Shelf is available to anyone in the Aldrich, Wadena, Deer Creek, Bluffton or Verndale area with a need. The food shelf is open from 9 a.m.-noon and from 1-4 p.m. on Mondays.

About 50 volunteers run the food shelf. They need some more volunteers, Baymler said. Volunteers work three hours on their week to work. There are three volunteers for the morning shift and three for the afternoon shift.

For more information about the food shelf call McLeod at (218) 631-1335.