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Granite Falls Advocate Tribune - Granite Falls, MN
  • Food shelf threatened as it looks for a new home

  • YMC Administrator Peg Heglund issued a statement that the County will not be adding space to a new courthouse for the food shelf.
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    Earlier this week, YMC Administrator Peg Heglund issued a statement that the County will not be adding space to a new courthouse for the food shelf.
    “The current location in the basement of the courthouse is too small, it’s not handicap accessible, and parking is not adequate,” said Heglund.
    The location, utilized since the early eighties – roughly thirty years, also presents some unique challenges.  
    According to Keeler-Aus, “The current space is not big enough to handle the food volume we need.”
    In Yellow Medicine County, in 2013, the local Food Shelf served a total of 3,978 people totaling 86,774 pounds of food.
    What would the result be  without the relief a local food shelf is able to provide to families and individuals in need?  According to the Director of the Yellow Medicine County Family Service Center, Rae Ann Keeler-Aus, “There would be a lot of hungry people, and unfortunately there would be an un-met need.”
    And that need, she says, “Continues to grow.” Thus far the 2014 statistics parallel that of last year but also point to an overall increase in demand. Increase in demand coupled with inadequate space creates a unique issue for the Food Shelf.
    While the lack of space has been deemed at issue for a number of years, the recent announcement which could be viewed as another drawback, is instead being viewed as opportunity.
    The announcement may cause some to wonder why the decision not to incorporate space was made, but actually it is a common misconception that the Food Shelf is a County operation.
    Rather, it is a part of the Neighbors United Food Shelf and is supported by in-kind administrative services provided by staff at the Family Service Center, and is run by the determination of community volunteers.
    Keeping the shelves stocked requires a minimum of $3,000 per month, with the bulk of items purchased at discount prices from Second Harvest.  
    Funding comes from local and area financial contributions comprised from individuals and businesses which is further supplemented by donated items from households, farmers, churches and grocery stores.
    And a potential new location for the Food Shelf has already emerged by way of local Granite Falls residents Mike and Sally Ohliger.
    Located at 841 2nd Street, across the street from the YMC Government Center, a portion of the previous dry cleaners building could compensate for the current site’s shortcomings and provide a home for the Food Shelf.  
    What would a new and more suitable location entail?
    According to Heglund, “We are really hoping that the community is willing to step up fiscally to help support a new location with rent and other on-going operational expenses.”
    Page 2 of 2 - The community is invited to weigh in and offer suggestions and/or support for the impending new endeavor at a meeting scheduled for June 25, 2014 at 4:30 p.m. at the Yellow Medicine County Government Center.
    The public will receive information ranging from the history of the food shelf, current usage and plans for the future, to data regarding the number of persons that utilize the service each month, and budgetary information.
    The discussion will not center around supplying food, but will instead focus on reaching out for additional contributions to help supplement that of a new location.
    The hope is that the community of Granite Falls will develop an on-going plan that will secure the future of this vital service.
    And to start the discussion, the Yellow Medicine County Family Service Center has agreed to continue to provide in-kind administrative services.
    But, it will take others to join in and commit to funding for the physical plant expenses.
    The Food Shelf is operated in whole by Volunteers, and without their dedication and time, it would not function.

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