Food shelf seeking donations at parade: Salvation Army sees uptick in summer needPublished 6:41am Tuesday, July 1, 2014
On the Fourth of July, most people sit along parade routes expecting to receive candy. This year, the Austin Salvation Army is doing things in reverse by calling on the public to be in the giving spirit.
With a gap in fundraisers from May to October, the Salvation Army is turning the July 4 parade into a food drive. With demand up at the food shelf this summer, volunteers will push grocery carts to collect food during the parade alongside the Salvation Army truck, unit No. 63 in the parade.
Food shelves are traditionally low in the summer, but this year has seen an increased need in the number of families seeking services.
“We want to be able to help as many as people as possible, so we are asking for help to get the shelves filled to be able to do that,” case manager Lori Espe said.
Espe said 450 families sought food donations in June, up from 250 to 300 in a typical summer month last year.
“This is a shock,” Espe said. “I didn’t realize until we had everything totaled up just how many we did in June.”
The Salvation Army stocks roughly 20 food categories, and Espe estimated four or five are low or empty. The food shelf is out of canned vegetables, except for canned spinach, and needs canned peas, corn and green beans. The Food shelf is also out of side dish items like macaroni and cheese, boxed potatoes and stuffing, and it’s low on cereal.
“We definitely could use a little bit of extra help right now,” Espe said.
Lt. David Amick’s goal is to get 5,000 pounds of food during the parade, if not more. Members of the advisory board came up with the idea for a Fourth of July parade drive — the first such Salvation Army food drive Amick is aware of in Minnesota.
“I thought that was a really good idea,” Amick said.
The Salvation Army is still seeking volunteers to help collect food during the parade. Those interested in helping can call volunteer special event coordinator Kris Maier at 507-437-4566.
“We’re hoping for a really good food drive,” Maier said.
Another chance for summer donations
The food shelf isn’t just looking for food donations this month; it’s looking for money too.
The Austin Salvation Army is again taking part in the Open Your Heart Food Shelf Challenge through Hunger Solutions.
In July, Open Your Heart will match financial gifts to the food shelf with a minimum of $150 and up to $5,000.
“We live in a very generous community and every month we take in donations,” Espe said in a press release. “If somebody’s planning to send a check or cash in August or September, it would be great if we could get it in July so it can be matched.”
Open Your Heart offers a total of $150,000 in matching funds. Last year, Minnesota food shelves raised more than $1 million in July.
To donate, people can go to the Austin Salvation Army at 409 First Ave. NE, mail donations to P.O. Box 480 or visit www.salvationarmynorth.org/community/austin/.