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Judge gives OK for Minnesota food bank deliveries during shutdown

A judge has ruled that the Second Harvest Northern Lakes Food Bank and other operators of food shelves across the state can continue to distribute supplies of commodity foods from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

On Thursday, Second Harvest was informed that it would have to cease shipments of USDA goods because of the Minnesota state shutdown. Upon receiving the news, food shelves petitioned to have the Emergency Food Assistance Program declared an essential service. A hearing on the matter was scheduled for Tuesday, but Shaye Moris, Second Harvest's executive director, said a judge decided to forgo that formality and grant the request immediately.

Although some USDA commodity shipments were held up Friday, Moris said no clients were turned away, and the disruption was minor at the most.

By the same token, however, she said: "We would have been worried about anything longer than a couple of days delay."

Each month the Second Harvest Northern Lakes Food Bank distributes 64,000 pounds of USDA commodity foods to 27 food shelves throughout Northeastern Minnesota. That's enough food to provide for about 51,200 meals. The bank serves about 9,200 needy residents per month, and 44 percent of them are children.