March is Minnesota Food Share Month. That means that special activities are held to raise food and funds for food shelves around the state. Here in Owatonna there is a night of musical entertainment where the admission price is a donation to the food shelf. The local churches are encouraged to hold “pack the pew” food drives where members buy bags of groceries and bring them to church where they are collected in the pews. And our library is having a “Hunger Film Festival” where they will show the movie Just Eat It, a documentary about how much food gets wasted in our country.
In the month of March our Ministerial Association gets a visit from a representative of our local food shelf. This year the representative brought along statistics on the amount of food they have provided for the needy during the last five years. The good news is that the amount of food that our local food shelf has distributed over this time period has declined.
The total amount of food distributed has dropped from 598,912 pounds in 2011 to 451,688 pounds in 2015, a decrease of 147,224 pounds!
The number of individuals served has declined from 20,667 in 2011 to 17,112 in 2015 a drop of 3,555. The number of households served declined a total 664 from 6,834 to 6,170.
According to these same statistics, our local food shelf is also very efficient at providing meals for people in need. The average cost per meal that they provide is between 11 and 54 cents. I haven’t done the math, but I’m pretty sure that is far less than our household spends per meal.
What accounts for the drop in the amount of food that our food shelf distributed? Was less donated? Was there less demand? Did other areas of the country experience the same drop? These are questions I didn’t get a chance to ask our food shelf rep.