Food Shelf Demand High as Prices Surge
by Masyn Rykhus, Carleton College-United Way Intern
FEBRUARY 2023 - “We’re seeing an increase in people coming in to get groceries,” says Becky Ford, Community Resource Manager at the Community Action Center (CAC) of Faribault. “It’s been pretty consistent. The week before last we served around 453 households in one week! That’s a new record.”The CAC manages food shelves Faribault and Northfield.
As groceries become more and more expensive, more and more people cannot afford to buy food. Ford says that people are starting to come in a couple times a week to lessen the burden of the cost. Not only is it the individuals that are feeling the pressure of the rising costs, but so is the food shelf.
“We can only offer eggs once a month when we usually were able to provide them about once a week. We now pay $60 for a case of eggs and no longer get additional funding from Channel One to help subsidize the cost.” Channel One is a regional food bank.
Everyone is feeling the crunch of expenses going up basic things like gas, food, and clothing. It’s impacting everyone and impacting us as well.
Ford says that the number of people needing to use the food shelf in Faribault has continued to rise since the new resource first opened in November 2021. This past September, the CAC in Faribault enrolled 83 new families.
To close or to not to close?
Recent snowstorms brought more hardship. The food shelf had to close to protect the staff. The most recent prolonged closure was around the Christmas and New Year’s holidays. The food shelf was closed for five days due to an unexpected snowstorm.
“Closing, especially for that long period of time, really impacts the people we serve,” says Ford. “When we have bad weather, we have to make the difficult decision whether to close for the safety of our staff.”
Still, the CAC staff does its best to keep the food shelf open, despite the added burden of keeping the sidewalks and delivery ramp clear of ice and snow.
Serving a culturally diverse population
Winter also limits in the types of foods offered. This time of year, fresh foods consist of mostly root vegetables. “The biggest item we need is tomatoes. Tomatoes are very popular among so many of the cultures we serve,” Ford says. “They can be used in so many different meals and in so many different ways.”
The food shelf can use more dried beans for the Hispanic community, Halal meat for the Somali community, corn meal for the Latino community, and baking supplies.
More hands on deck
While the food shelf is in need of donations due to the increase in food shelf usage and rising costs, Ford says more volunteers would also be a help.
“We are always in need of volunteers due to the amount of food going out,” Ford explains. “There’s a role for everyone. You can stock shelves and help the staff or even become a greeter because our families need a friendly face when they come into the food shelf.”
How to help
Please call the Community Action Center at in Faribault: 507-573-2627 or Northfield: 507.664.3550 for more information about donations or volunteering.