Published on Wednesday, 30 November -0001 00:00
Gas prices, heating costs and just the every day cost of living these days has put the pinch on everyone. And some families feel the pinch even more when feeding their family becomes an issue also. The Kimball Food Shelf is keenly aware of this problem, and is in need of donations to help those families who are finding it difficult to make ends meet and provide their family with the daily nutritional needs. Mary Mathies, coordinator/director and president of the local food shelf, located at St. Anne's Catholic Church, 441 East Hazel Ave., said she has noticed an increase in the number of families that are being served. Comparing some months from last year to the same months this year, Mathies found: July 2005 - 19 households (56 individuals) received 1,420 pounds of food, compared to July 2006 - 28 households (109 individuals) and 1,371 pounds of food; August 2005 - 24 households (76 individuals) and 1,584 pounds of food, compared to August 2006 - 32 household (66 individuals) and 1,881 pounds of food. And during the holiday season (such as Thanksgiving and Christmas), which is fast approaching, the numbers triple - last year averages showed 67 households (227 individuals) and 3,421 pounds were provided to area food shelf families during that period. There is always a need for both monetary and food item donations to the food shelf, Mathies said. With monetary donations, she can purchase bulk quantities of food and household items from Second Harvest Heartland, getting them at a lower cost than the general public because they are being purchased for the food shelf. For instance, she is able to purchase a case (12) of 7.5 oz. bags of a hot cereal at a cost of $1.20. Mathies says when it comes to spending money for food shelf items she is always frugal and sticks to buying the basics, unless she runs across an item(s) at a particularly great discount price. A couple of the basics always needed include 5-pound sacks of flour or sacks of sugar, which are not available from Second Harvest Heartland. When donations from the public of items such as pizza, soda pop or pudding come in, it
is a real treat for these families, Mathies said. The local food shelf does have a freezer available, so frozen items can also be dropped off. Mathies said people need to remember, though, that items such as meat need to be USDA-approved, and no homemade items can be accepted. If you have any questions or concerns about the types of donations, contact Mathies before bringing them to the food shelf. Food Drive Month for the food shelf is celebrated in March each year, and Mathies says depending on donations received during this drive and based on the number of persons the food shelf serves, there is also some funding available from the state. To be eligible to make use of the food shelf's services participants need to live in the area of Kimball Area School District 739. However, Mathies said there are a few exceptions, some of which include: the local food shelf's hours are more compatibile to the participant(s) schedule, handicap accessiblity or the Kimball Food Shelf may be easier for a participant's driver to take them to. A costly medical problem, losing a job or a number of other reasons could drastically change someone's life and financial circumstances in the blink of an eye. "We're not talking about people who are lazy (who use the services the food shelf has to offer)," Mathies said. "These are people who are working hard. No one should feel ashamed or guilty for making use of the food shelf services that are available to them." Monetary donations can be sent to: Kimball Area Food Shelf Inc., P.O. 99, Kimball, Minn. 55353. Other donations can be made during the food shelf's open hours (Tuesdays and Thursdays from 10-11 a.m.); signs are posted at the church on those days. For more information, call St. Anne's Catholic Church at (320) 398-2211 or Mathies at her home at (320) 398-6168. ********** Women, Infant and Children Clinic Available once a month at St. Anne's Catholic Church, 441 East Hazel Ave., Kimball, is Stearns County's Women, Infant and Children (WIC) Clinic. WIC Nutrition Services serves pregnant women, post-partum non-breastfeeding mothers (up to six months), breastfeeding women (up to one year), infants (up to one-year-old), and children (up to five-years-old). Participants must have a nutritional need, meet income guidelines, and live within Stearns County. WIC provides nutrition education, including breastfeeding counseling (available to people regardless of whether or not they qualify for WIC); nutritional monitoring (including height, weight and hemoglobin); and offers food vouchers for supplemental foods such as cereal, milk, juice, eggs, cheese, peanut butter, beans, formula, infant cereal and juice. The WIC program is a supplemental food program, and the food and formula vouchers available are not expected to meet all nutritional needs. WIC Nutrition Services stresses that participants will need to utilize other resources (such as savings, food stamps, the local food shelf, etc.) to acquire additional food and formula that will be needed to meet nutritional needs.
WIC Nutrition Services offers 16 separate clinics throughout Stearns County, including several that offer evening hours. WIC meets at St. Anne's Church in Kimball the third Friday of each month. Hours may vary, so appointments are required. To verify eligibility or to make an appointment, call (320) 656-6000. ********** Energy Assistance Program The Energy Assistance Program (EAP) is available to Minnesota residents to help with home heating costs through energy assistance grants. The program is federally-funded through the U.S. Department of Human Services. Funds are available for renters or homeowners. Households with the lowest incomes and highest energy costs receive the greatest benefit. Households at or below 50 percent of the state median income are eligible for the Energy Assistance Program, with the size of the grant based on household size, income, fuel type and energy usage. Services include: direct payment to the energy supplier; educating consumers on how to use home heating energy efficiently and safely; acting as an advocate with energy suppliers and human service providers on behalf of consumers; crisis help for utility disconnections or necessary fuel deliveries; and emergency heating system repair or replacement. To obtain an application, get more information or find out which agency serves your area, call (800) 657-3710.