Growing up in rural Stearns County, I was fortunate enough to grow up on a small farm where I learned the importance of the work that goes into successfully growing a crop and or a garden. There is a certain amount of pride that goes into looking at the full basket of produce that you have planted, grown and harvested by yourself. Those first pickings bring pure joy. Then sometimes, in a good year, you get to a point where you have picked so many beans, cucumbers or zucchini that you are ready to forget the whole thing! But you don’t, and you head back to the garden to pick again because you can’t bear to let something go to waste. Now an adult with my own garden, I can say that I have experienced this more than once. Here in Central Minnesota, we are fortunate enough to have great resources available in our food shelves and shelters as a place where instead of letting produce go to waste, it can be consumed by someone in need.
As we embrace these few warm days, you can’t help but think forward to summer weather and as a gardener, growing season. But for many families in our community, though the thought of the weather may be pleasant, the stress and anxiety of figuring out how to provide enough food for their children when they are not in school can be overwhelming. Catholic Charities Emergency Services Food Shelf shows statistics of visits doubling by families during summer months. Organizations like The Yes Network and Boys & Girls Clubs of Central Minnesota know that the meals they provide to their kids may very well be the only food they are getting for the day.
March is Minnesota FoodShare Month, a time to mobilize our community to help stock the shelves of our local food shelves and pantries to prepare for the busy, upcoming summer months. I am excited to live in a community that takes this task to heart. On March 23rd, Catholic Charities will once again be holding Pack the Porch, but this year it is Porches. There will be three locations for drop off: Pioneer Place of Fifth, St. Cloud Hyundai and HealthPartners in Sartell. The goal is just that. To pack the porches full of food and monetary donations to assist in restocking the shelves of their food shelf. One week earlier, after our United Way Annual Celebration on March 15th, we will once again be opening up registration for the 2nd annual Kick Summer Hunger Kickball Tournament. Teams raise funds and food for the opportunity to take part in a double elimination kickball tournament, where the winning team gets a trophy along with a year of bragging rights as the best team in Central Minnesota.
Gardening, and on a larger scale farming, brings people together for a common cause of doing and making something better that will benefit them and others. Running a food drive or raising funds for a good cause feels very similar. Coming together to do good for others brings that feeling of pure joy, just like those first pickings from a garden. Take this month to do that kind of good. Form a team. Run a drive. Make plans to bring excess produce to a food shelf in the summer. Help others have that feeling of having enough, but not enough to waste.
Written By Alexis Lutgen, Community Impact Coordinator