The Farmers to Families food box program may be gone from Detroit Lakes, but they were impactful, according to attendees and volunteers.
On Monday, May 17, volunteers with the Farmers to Families program loaded up every vehicle that came to the Soo Pass Ranch, outside of Detroit Lakes, during the last distribution event before their funding expires at the end of May. The group gave away 3,600 food boxes to families in need. Many of the attendees took multiple boxes so they could drop them off at their neighbors houses, or with family members in the area who were not able to attend the distribution event.
Jim Gulson, a food box recipient, picked up 10 boxes to deliver to his neighbors.
"I live on a dead end road and we've got 15 people, families of two or more, and daycare," he said.
Each box contained various produce, a protein and a gallon of milk. The 3,600 boxes were delivered on three semi-tractor trailer rigs and distributed by community volunteers.
Denise Kugler, a food box recipient, said Monday's event was the second time she wound her way through Soo Pass Ranch to receive a food box.
"This is so smooth here, it's so awesome," said Kugler.
She also said if the program ever starts up again, she would get back in line.
BTD Manufacturing in Detroit Lakes sent about a dozen volunteers to the event to help load the boxes into cars, but volunteers also came from the Boys and Girls Club, the city's public works department, and other civic organizations.
"We were lucky … we got a good, solid team," said Jason Synhorst, volunteer organizer for the BTD group.
Synhorst is part of BTD Manufacturing's volunteer council, which organizes volunteer events for their employees so the company can give back to the community and put faces to their manufacturing brand.
He said he's sad to see the program end because, after volunteering at four food distribution events with the group, he knows the need is not going to go away.
"It's sad because we see a lot of people who are utilizing it," said Synhost. "The first time I helped out, it was just one semi, and then it was two, and the last two (events) there've been three and it's not hard to get rid of the food."
While event organizers were marking car windshields with washable markers for their food box allotment, one of the drivers broke down and cried with Misti Rose, a Farmers to Families event organizer.
"You really helped me out a lot," the woman said through her tears.
After sharing the emotional moment with the attendee, Rose said: "Oh, I've been crying on and off with people that have been thanking me. It's been very emotional.