Second Harvest helps foodshelves triple their buying power

And a hard place

You’d be surprised how much good the smallest effort will do.

For instance, consider the gift a couple bags of groceries can be when it comes to filling financial holes these days, as the economy keeps getting worse. In a household that’s still working, $30 worth of staples from the foodshelf means $30 that can go, for instance, to the still-rising price of gas for the car.

Or it can cover a utility bill. Perhaps put a new pair of cheap, functional shoes on someone in the family’s feet. Maybe it can go toward the rent to help keep the proverbial wolf from jumping in the window.

And, of course, for those getting by on unemployment insurance — not to mention wit and grit — it helps keep breath in the body. For those on the ever-increasing public roll, foodshelf bags are vital in order to stretch food stamps as far as possible.

Now consider how easy it is to put that food on people’s shelves. You can take one-third the cost of that $30, just $10, to the good folk at Jericho Road Ministries (JRM). They will, in turn, get a nice bang out of each buck, licensed, as it were, to purchase a great deal of food for not much money at all.

Here’s how it works, says JRM Director Jeff Noyed: “Three words — Second Harvest Heartland. They are a food bank that offers phenomenal deals for food shelves such as Jericho Road Ministries. Each food shelf must become a certified member,AHP.Food Share pay their bills, submit statistics and be inspected. However, this is a small amount of work in comparison to the great deals that we receive as a food shelf.”

Responding to other household necessities, Noyed, ably aided by a tight-knit handful of volunteers Laurie, Deb, Robert and Margaret, tries to keep the pantry racks of soap, toothpaste, vitamins and things like that well-stocked.

One item families won’t have to walk away without is diapers. If you need them, JRM is packed to the rafters. Why? Once again it’s through Second Harvest Heartland. When a company like Huggies donates diapers to Second Harvest Heartland, it is usually in massive amounts. Jericho Road continues to order about 10 cases of diapers each week at “phenomenal prices.”

Jericho Road Ministries is located smack-dab in the middle of South Minneapolis’ Mexican American populace, just up the road from Lake Street at 16th Ave. and 33rd Street in the basement of the 16/33 Center. Accordingly, when Noyed set up shop in January 2011, it was with an eye out to be of service to the neighbors. He made a point of stocking Mexican food staples. How has it worked out to date?

“When we arrived…we were very cognizant of the fact that over 30 percent of the population [in the area] was Hispanic. Each Friday we do a produce distribution that attracts 65 families of which 55 are Hispanic. In addition to the fresh fruits and vegetables that everyone seems to enjoy, we also add, as we are able, items such as tortillas and pinto beans.”

He observes, quite sensibly, “The way to tell if you are meeting their needs is if they come back or tell their friends. Our Friday distribution started with 10 families, and now we are at 65. We must be meeting a community need or the numbers wouldn’t be growing.”

You don’t have to be Mexican American to avail yourself of this fine resource. In fact, you don’t even have to live in the neighborhood. Everyone’s eligible, and the #14 MTC bus stops right on the next corner.

Noyed recalls, “[It’s been] two years, four months and 19 days. Honestly, when you start something from scratch, each and every day counts and is treasured. We are distributing 15,000 pounds of food per month. If each person who comes in receives 15 pounds of food, which is our goal and average, then we are serving about 1,000 people per month.”

As he points out, Jericho Road Ministries is but one such outfit that shops in bulk. The people over at Second Harvest probably have a list, if you’re interested in donating some purchasing power to a good cause.


Dwight Hobbes welcomes reader responses to P.O. Box 50357, Mpls., 55403. 
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