March is Food Share Month across Minnesota

Contributed photos
The Henning Food Shelf is gearing up for March Food Share Month. The shelves are filled with items including juice and other non-perishable food items.

If only people could read headlines like this: “Hunger Conquered Worldwide in 2023” or “No One Will Ever Go Hungry Again!” 

While most households are, despite recent inflation, supply-chain issues and loss of Covid-19 food support programs, able to put food on the table every day, there are many of our relatives, friends and neighbors who still struggle with food insecurities on a regular or occasional basis.

Everyone is impacted by inflated food prices and they are expected to continue to increase from 4 to 10 percent during 2023, further putting a strain on many household food budgets as the supplemental E-SNAP program is also ending, with final payments to be made to those on SNAP in March.

In 2022 in Minnesota, state residents made 5,505,100 visits to food shelves, a record high that was 1.9 million more visits than in 2021. The state is served by 476 food shelves, mobile and tribal programs, 66 of which were new in 2022.  If Minnesota food shelves were open 24 hours a day 7 days a week, more than 10 people would visit a food shelf every minute.

On the local level in 2022, the Henning Community Food Shelf distributed food and personal care items to clients who made a total of 449 visits to the food shelf, up from 397 visits in 2021. An average of 35 to 40 and as many as 60 clients visited the food shelf each month during the past year, when a number of ethnic items were added to better serve a growing local Hispanic population.

During the 42nd annual Minnesota Food Share March campaign that runs statewide from Feb. 27 through April 9, contributions of money and food are being sought to maintain local food shelves as the valuable community resources that they are. While food donations are always appreciated, financial support is preferred as dollars donated can be matched this month and can also go farther with access to reduced offerings from North Country Food Bank and other sources, according to Karen Stueve, Henning Food Shelf director. If donating food items, please consider expiration dates. Also, open packages are not accepted and cannot be used, and any clothing donated is given to the Henning Salvation Army Thrift Store.

The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP) annual income guidelines of the USDA are listed below for those eligible to use local food shelves. Those who don’t fit these income guidelines may also qualify if they participate in any state or federal program or service such as SNAP, WIC, energy assistance, free and reduced school lunches, etc. No one with a need is turned away other than to refer them to a food shelf nearer to their residence after providing them with food.

TEFAP Income Eligibility

Family Size- Annual Income

One- Up to $40,770

Two- $40,771-$54,930

Three- $54,931-$69,090

Four- $69,091-$83,250

Five- $83,251-$97,410

Six- $97,411-$111,570

Seven- $111,571-$125,730

Eight- $125,731-$139,890

Add- $4,720/additional family member

Henning’s food shelf program is always seeking to reach more of those in need. Individuals who know of someone who could be using these resources, could pick up food for them or give them a ride to shop for themselves, contact the Henning Food Shelf. The food shelf serves the residents of the Henning School District and non-residents whose children are enrolled in school here or whose job is in Henning and they are unable to shop at the food shelf where they live.

The Henning Food Shelf, located at 604 2nd Street in the old city hall building, is open on Mondays from 3:30-5 p.m. and other times by appointment by calling Karen Stueve at 583-2136. Financial contributions can be mailed anytime to P.O. Box 176, Henning, MN 56551. 

Stueve said the food shelf would like to thank people for their past and continued support.