By Starrla Cray
LESTER PRAIRIE, MN The Lester Prairie Business Association (LPBA) has found a way to simultaneously support the McLeod Emergency Food Shelf and bolster the local economy, but it will need some help from the community.
From now until Thursday, Sept. 15, the LPBA will match up to $2,000 in food shelf donations purchased at Prairie Market in Lester Prairie.
“As people are shopping for their family, they can just put a couple extra items in their cart,” LPBA member Jane Holasek said.
At the checkout line, there will be a large box to place cereal, canned goods, personal care products, cooking supplies, and other basic food donations.
Currently, the McLeod Emergency Food Shelf is especially in need of cereal, according to coordinator Marietta Neumann.
More and more local people are using the food shelf lately, partly because of high unemployment and reduced work hours.
In McLeod County, 3,415 households (10,998 individuals) were served in 2010, up more than 1,288 from 2009. Of those, 6,612 were adults, and 4,136 were children.
More than 400 of the households were first-time-ever users in 2010.
“When we heard about the need at the food shelf, we thought, ‘why not make it a community undertaking?’” LPBA member Fred Holasek said.
Fred and Jane said they hope the food shelf challenge will encourage people to shop locally.
“If they go to the grocery store, they might see what else is available, and check out the town,” Fred said.
Supporting businesses in town helps maintain jobs, which lessens the local need for the food shelf, Fred added.
“It’s a double benefit for the food shelf and local economy,” Jane said.
In Lester Prairie, a record high of 136 people used the McLeod Emergency Food Shelf last year, according to Neumann. In 1991, when they first started tracking individual cities, 42 Lester Prairie residents were served.
The McLeod Emergency Food Shelf doesn’t require a certain income level in order to receive food, but the workers will ask for proof of address, since it is only open to McLeod County residents. Recipients also need to provide a reason why assistance is needed.
Donations to the food shelf are greatly appreciated, according to Neumann.
In one week, the Lester Prairie Business Association already raised $1,850, which will be used to purchase food at Prairie Market.
“There are some very generous business owners in the community,” Jane said.
The McLeod Emergency Food Shelf has two sites: 808 12th St. E. in Glencoe, and 105 2nd Ave. SW in Hutchinson. For more information, call (320) 864-2088.
“Every little bit helps,” Jane said. “Let’s come together and do something good for the community.”