Editor's note: Helping Hands is a new Sunday column offering our area nonprofit groups a chance to talk about their work. If your group would like to be considered for participation, email jperry@dlnewspapers.com.

The Becker County Food Pantry has been in existence at various locations in Detroit Lakes since 1983. We have been in our current location, 1308 Rossman Ave., on the edge of the fairgrounds, since 1999.

Whether you have made a financial or food donation, volunteered your time or kept us in your prayers, we thank you for your support.

Here are some things you might not know about the pantry.

There are two major concerns with canned goods collections. First, we have received items that are upward of 30 years old. We can go back five years on some expired items, but we do check every item that comes in. Secondly, we buy in bulk. The $10 you might spend to purchase items to donate, we could instead use to buy larger quantities. For example, with the current trade wars going on with different countries, the federal government has been buying up farm products to assist the farmers and releasing the items to us at 8 cents a pound.

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Here are some interesting statistics. In 2018, one out of every 11 families in Becker County used the food pantry at some point in the year. Forty percent of those were children under 17 and 6% were senior citizens. We are the only food shelf in Becker County. Neighboring Wadena County has four food shelves, Otter Tail County has six, and Clay County has three.

Another fact is that the same people don't use the food pantry every month. Over 47% of those who came to the food pantry last year came only once or twice. Twenty-six percent came three to five times in the year. Thus, we are helping those in need through a difficult time and then we don’t see them again.

Since we are a nonprofit, we rely on the public’s assistance to meet our purchasing of food items and the telephone bill. Financially, 25% of our donations come from individuals. Some send us checks every month, others only during different campaigns. Thirty-three percent comes from religious groups/churches, 26% from businesses and 16 % from clubs/organizations. We appreciate what we receive from everyone, no matter what the amount. Not one penny goes to salaries. Everyone who works/helps at the pantry is volunteering his or her time. We also appreciate the many volunteers we have coming from the Rotary clubs, the area churches, PEO or just on their own as an individual.

We also receive a quantity of food items donated from various sources. In 2018, we distributed roughly 494,741 pounds of food. Ruby’s Pantry generously gives us the “leftovers” after their monthly distribution. Over 9% of what we distributed last year came from items from Ruby’s Pantry. Central Market provided us with 7% and Walmart supplied 17% of the products given out. Other donations through the year came from the “Yeti,” Lake Sallie-Melissa, the Becker County Fair, Kentucky Fried Chicken, CVS Pharmacy, various school or church events, the Post Office, Canadian Pacific Holiday Train and other businesses/individuals who had collections or just provided goods from their gardens. The remainder is purchased from the North Country Food Bank or from local businesses.

We are open are from noon to 3 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays. Starting Sept. 10 we will be opening on the second Tuesday of the month from 4 to 7 p.m. to accommodate those who are working and are unable to come in during our regular hours. Those who wish to take advantage of these new hours will have to call in (846-0142) to set an appointment time, and 2. “shop”, i.e. fill their own boxes of grocery items.