BY GABE LICHT
MONTROSE, MN Every day, 15 or 16 Second Harvest Heartland trucks have full routes driving food to 59 counties in central and southwestern Minnesota, as well as western Wisconsin.
The fourth Tuesday of each month, one of those trucks goes to the Montrose Community Center, located at 230 Center Ave. SW.
It’s called FE+ED, an acronym meaning For Each and Every Day.
It’s been happening for more than a year, and participation in the program has nearly multiplied by five.
About 120 people received food during the first event in July of 2015. Now, between 500 and 600 people receive food each month.
It’s a collaborative effort between many local organizations.
“We initially talked about having a food shelf here, but there’s another one three miles away (in Waverly),” said the Rev. Kimberly Buffie, of Grace Place, who organizes the event with the help of an army of volunteers.
Over the past 15 months, participating organizations include Montrose United Methodist Church, House of Grace, Palabra Viva Iglesia Del Nazareno, Montrose Fire Department, the Montrose Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts, Montrose Lions and Lioness, United Fund of Marysville, Wright County Human Services, Thrivent Financial, Coborn’s, Wal-Mart, and individual donors.
Volunteers are the heart and soul of the program.
“It takes 40 people to help with this,” Buffie said. “Volunteers unload and sort the food, greet individuals as they arrive, load food into their vehicles, and distribute the food . . . Everyone has their own region. Some people really like a certain region. Some people are just runners.”
Produce is the primary element of the food distribution, with 10 pallets distributed in August. FE+ED pays 3 cents per pound for the produce.
“For some of the harder moving produce, like cabbage and cucumbers, we attach ready-to-print PDF recipes they can distribute,” said Katie Carlson, an agency service representative with Second Harvest Heartland.
FE+ED will also accept produce donations from local farmers, who may call (763) 227-3793 for more information.
Second Harvest Heartland rescues bread and baked goods at the end of the shelf life from grocery stores and provides it to organizations like FE+ED.
FE+ED also pays for items like flour, pancake mix, and syrup to distribute.
Distribution takes place from 4 to 7 p.m., and Buffie said people are lined up by 3:30 p.m. each time.
For those who are physically unable to attend the distribution, volunteers will box up food and deliver it. There are usually about a dozen individuals who take part in the distribution this way, with that number growing steadily.
Buffie sees great value in the food distribution, which will next take place Tuesday, Sept. 27.
“We love doing it,” Buffie said. “Community gets formed around this food drop.”
For more information, or to get involved, call (763) 227-3793 or (612) 532-3654.