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Food Pantry's annual summer challenge campaign launches in July

The ​Becker County Food Pantry​ and Open Your Heart to the Hungry and Homeless are once again teaming up to launch the 8th Annual Food Shelf Challenge Grant.

Open Your Heart to the Hungry and Homeless will proportionally match donations to ​the Food Pantry​ during the month of July, up to $4,000. The more funds the ​Food Pantry​ raises in July, the larger the matching grant will be.

Minnesota summers were made for trips to the cabin, boat rides on the lake, and farmers market outings, not food shelf visits. But that is the reality for thousands of Minnesotans. Children are home from school and the family budget is tight. The ​Becker County Food Pantry ​helps provide nutritious fruits and vegetables to local families in this situation, and needs your help this summer to continue to do so.

In 2017, Minnesota food shelves raised over $1.5 million participating in this grant challenge, and hope to raise even more this year. Local donations can be mailed to or dropped off at the Becker County Food Pantry, 1308 Rossman Ave., Detroit Lakes, 56501.

Since 1986, Open Your Heart to the Hungry and Homeless has targeted millions of dollars to strategically fight hunger in Minnesota. Open Your Heart funds the purchase and transfer of more than one million pounds of fresh produce, meat, and dairy products to Minnesota food shelves every year.

Food shelves in Minnesota help individuals, families, and seniors get the nutritious food they need but cannot afford to purchase on their own. "First my husband had heart surgery and then I fell and broke some bones. We have had trouble after trouble. We really thank you for the help we are getting." "I am on a very limited income and I run out of things before the end of the month." These are just a few of the comments from clients at the Food Pantry.

Summer is especially stressful for both families with children and the food shelves that serve them. In 2017, children made 268,181 ​visits to food shelves in the summer months.​ When kids are home for the summer, they are missing out on school meals and food shelves help fill that gap.

Currently, 1 out of 14 families in Becker County have sought assistance from the Food Pantry in 2018. In an unscientific survey, one-fifth of the Food Pantry's clients were found to be senior citizens, and 65 percent have children under the age of 17.

The Food Pantry is the only public food shelf in Becker County. It has been in operation since 1983, and has been located by the county fairgrounds for the past 18 years. The Food Pantry is open to the public on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 12-3 p.m., with its clientele served by an all-volunteer staff, many of them coming from local service organizations and churches. The Food Pantry can be reached at 218-846-0142.

Open Your Heart to the Hungry and Homeless has 30 years of experience as the only grant provider in Minnesota focused solely on alleviating hunger and homelessness. Open Your Heart helps food and shelter providers of all sizes get the resources they need to serve more people, including mattresses, freezers, fresh produce and roof repairs. They also support homeless students by providing school supplies, activity fees, gym shoes, tutoring materials and other essentials that help them engage fully in school. For more information, please visit www.oyh.org.

Hunger Solutions Minnesota works to end hunger in our state. Its staff takes action to assure food security for all Minnesotans by supporting programs and agencies that provide food to those in need, advancing sound public policy, and guiding grassroots advocacy. Hunger Solutions connects food shelves with funding and technical assistance to support the 3.4 million annual food shelf visits. For more information, please visit www.hungersolutions.org or follow @hungersolutions on Twitter.

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