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Holiday spirit helps fill the Food Pantry

A need was expressed and the public responded -- in full force.

The demand at the Becker County Food Pantry has been increasing more and more, in large part due to the decreasing economy. And because of that demand increase, the Food Pantry had to cut back its supply to be able to help everyone in need.

"That's pretty much the way it is. More people are aware ... we really need food," the Food Pantry's Alice Hammer said.

While Christmas is normally a time of extra help from groups, organizations and individuals, this year there was an extra push to help feed the 1,100 families the pantry sees each year.

"There's a lot more demand than in the past," she said.

This year though, thanks to the schools and churches, there's more food to help those in need. For most of December, picture after picture is submitted to local newspapers to show truckloads, wagonloads and bags and bags of food being collected for the local food pantry.

Hammer said the number of those utilizing the food pantry varies from visit to visit. Some pick-up days there are 30-40 families and some days there are 20-25 families participating. A box is supposed to last one to two weeks, to "tide them over," Hammer said.

She said the schools this year stepped up and did a wonderful job.

"I don't know how many van loads we've had. It really helped stock the shelves a lot," she said.

Some classrooms made the decision this year to donate food to the Food Pantry rather than purchasing gifts for each other. Other classes simply held food drives, getting the public involved in the process.

Cash donations are always welcome as well. The Becker County Food Pantry can then purchase needed food at a low price from the Food Bank and the USDA.

Although the Food Pantry has had to cut back on the amount of food given out and the number of times recipients can use the pantry each year, it is helping those in need. And will continue to do so.

"So far, we're meeting the demand," Hammer said. "Hopefully (the Christmas donations) will tide us over until March or summer when we have another food drive."