By Linda Scherer
WINSTED, MN St. John’s Lutheran Church in Winsted is making it easy to give the gift of a meal to someone in need.
Just purchase an adult ticket for the annual St. John’s chicken dinner, to take place Sunday, April 26 from 10:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., and for each adult ticket sold, a $1 donation will be given to the McLeod County Emergency Food Shelf.
That $1 can buy enough food to provide a meal for one individual. The more adult tickets sold for the dinner, the more meals that can be given out through the food shelf.
Additional profit from the dinner will be used to help pay for the church elevator and to upgrade the parsonage for a new pastor.
The meal is being catered by Joel Ryan of Homestyle Catering of Eden Valley, who also did the meal last year.
“We tried to make the dinner the same as last year, because everybody really enjoyed it,” St. John’s Sunday School Superintendent Bonnie Quast said.
“It is the best chicken,” Quast said “I think that is why this event has grown from the 225 that used to attend.”
In 2008, St. John’s served 587 people. Its goal for 2009 is to serve 600.
The price of an adult dinner ticket is $8.50, for children ages 4 to 11 it is $5.50, and it is free for children ages 1 to 3.
“We tried to keep the price the same as last year so everyone could still come and enjoy the meal. We have take-outs that can be picked up from the youth room on the north side of the church,” Quast said.
Since St. John’s is searching for a new pastor, Rev. Michael Nirva or Rev. Martin Schoenfeld, both of St. James Lutheran Church of Howard Lake, will conduct a 9:15 a.m. service at St. John’s that morning.
McLeod Co. Food Shelf is in need of donations
The demand for food supplies from the McLeod County Emergency Food Shelf is greater than ever.
Each month the food shelf gives out 20,000 pounds of food, according to Marietta Neumann, coordinator at the food shelf.
Glencoe and Hutchinson both have offices for the food shelf. The statistics recorded are a total of both locations, and keep track of everything from the number of households it serves to the ages and location of the individuals who receive food supplies.
The food shelf served 2,647 households in 2008, which makes up a total of 8,422 individuals.
A total of 209,054 pounds of food was distributed for the year.
The food shelf gave out 66,074 pounds more food than what was donated.
That is why the cash donations are important, according to Neumann. Some of the cash that is donated to the food shelf is used to buy the hamburger, cheese, milk, eggs and other food items that are needed, but not received, through donations.
Of the cash donations received, 95.2 percent goes directly to stock the shelves and 4.8 goes to management, Neumann said.
Neumann has also tried to keep a year’s funds in reserve so the food shelf can carry on in the event that donations were to fall off.
“Already last year I started using my reserved funds. I am still ahead and I could carry on for awhile, but I wouldn’t want to use up all the reserve,” Neumann said.
The shelves are full right now, but by July, Neumann said, she will be dipping into her reserve again.
“Very few donations come in during the summer months,” Neumann said. “What I have now has to last me until holiday time when most of the food drives happen.”
“With the loss of jobs and the cutback in work hours, many more families are finding themselves unable to pay bills and buy food at the same time,” Neumann said.
Recently a group from Glencoe proudly dropped off 2,332 pounds of food it had collected, which was happily accepted at the food shelf.
The group that had collected the donation asked Neumann how long its donation would last.
“I told them not quite a half a week,” Neumann said.
All of the towns in McLeod County are served by the food shelf.
In 2008, 123 Winsted households used the food shelf, as well as 86 households from Lester Prairie.
Neumann talked about someone who had dropped food donations off at the food shelf a while back. If he had been in just a few hours earlier he would have seen his own son being served.
“You never know who is using the food shelf. It could be your own son or daughter,” Neumann said.