Minnesota summers were made for trips to the cabin, boat rides on the lake, and farmers market outings, not food shelf visits. But that's the reality for thousands of Minnesotans.

Every day, Minnesotans make over 9,000 visits to food shelves statewide - that is six visits to a food shelf every minute. Children are home from school and the family budget is tight. Becker County Food Pantry helps provide nutritious fruits and vegetables to these families and needs your help this summer.

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"We see an increase in child visits during the summer," says Food Pantry Executive Director Brad Carlson. "When school is out for summer vacation, many children miss out on free school meals and their families turn to us for support.

"Help us to make a bigger impact on hunger in our community this July," he added. "You can make a difference this year by donating throughout the month. The more you donate, the larger our food shelf's grant from Open Your Heart to the Hungry and Homeless will be.

"The challenge funds will proportionally match your donation, up to $4,000. Every $1 you give helps those in Becker County. Your financial donation will go further due to our buying power. We can purchase food from our food bank for pennies on the pound."

Last July, Becker County served 440 families with 1,657 total individuals. The Food Pantry is the only public food shelf in Becker County. They are open Tuesdays and Thursdays from 12-3 p.m., but are looking at being open one evening a month if volunteers are found to staff it.

Call 218-846-0142 for more information on being a Food Pantry volunteer.

Since 1986, Open Your Heart to the Hungry and Homeless has targeted millions of dollars to strategically fight hunger in Minnesota. Open Your Heart to the Hungry and Homeless funds the purchase and transfer of more than one million pounds of fresh produce, meat, and dairy products to food shelves every year. Open Your Heart to the Hungry and Homeless also provides grants for food shelves and food banks to get the equipment they need - like freezers, shelving and trucks - to be able to serve the growing number of Minnesotans who can't afford enough food for their families.

Hunger Solutions Minnesota is the statewide organization that coordinates this challenge grant opportunity. Hunger Solutions works to end hunger via the Minnesota Food HelpLine and by advancing fair public nutrition policies on behalf of hungry Minnesotans. Hunger Solutions also connects Minnesota's food shelves with funding and technical assistance to support the 9,000 daily food shelf visits.