Salvation Army food shelf nearly bare

Food shelves at the Salvation Army in Austin are running particularly low this summer, and some items are entirely unavailable. -- Kevin Coss/kevin.coss@austindailyherald.com

Austin is in the depths of summer, and supplies at the Salvation Army food shelves are running thin.

This year, however, the shelves have been emptying faster than they have in the past. Now, they are approximately half full. Case Worker Lori Blanton said that’s cause for concern, and she hopes area donors — plus a bonus from a food shelf grant — will help boost the shelves this month.

“The food shelf will get low in the summertime, but we’d always make it through,” Blanton said.

Now, however, the shelter has no overstock to resupply many of its items, and more won’t be arriving for another week and a half, she said. Donations would help ensure patrons of the food shelves have access to a better variety of foods.

“With school being out, we’re definitely seeing those families with children,” Blanton said. When the children are unable to get meals in the school cafeteria, they need additional support from their families.

The grant — officially called the Open Your Heart to the Hungry and Homeless $100,000 Food Shelf Challenge Grant — runs through July and is sponsored by Hunger Solutions Minnesota, a hunger relief organization in St. Paul.

For the month of July, the grant will contribute funds to the local Salvation Army and other participating food shelves proportional to the amount local donors give. The grant won’t match the amount the local organization receives, but rather give it a percentage of the $100,000 in relation to how much it raises relative to the other shelters.

In order to qualify and receive part of the grant, the Salvation Army needs to go above the minimum cutoff for donations.

“As long as our food shelf receives the minimum donation of $100, we will be eligible,” Blanton said, adding that the organization has nearly reached that level already.

Any grant money the Salvation Army receives will be put towards replenishing the food supply.

Blanton said it’s best right now to get donations in the form of money, since it will take advantage of the statewide grant, but the shelves also accept food. Peanut butter, corn, cereal, rice and canned beats are most helpful, because the shelves have completely run out of those items.

“We’re going through some things we’ve never gone through before,” Blanton said.

About 350 families per month draw from the Salvation Army’s food shelves.

Those interested in making a donation can do so in person at the Salvation Army, 409 First Ave. NE. Donations are preferred during food shelf operating hours, but can also be sent by mail to P.O. Box 480, Austin, Minn. Write in the memo line on the check to designate the money for the food shelf.

The food shelf is open 9-11:30 a.m. and 1-3:30 p.m. Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays. The office is open 9 a.m.-noon and 1-4 p.m. Monday through Friday.

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