March food drives 'exceptional' for local pantries
WORTHINGTON — While not all of the matching fund allocations are in, Worthington’s two food shelves did exceptionally well during their March food drive campaign.
Any contributions of food and money were matched during the month by Minnesota FoodShare and the Feinstein Foundation. In addition, the Worthington Regional Health Care Foundation offered a dollar-for-dollar match if monetary donations were written to them and noted for either of the food shelves. The foundation will continue to match contributions through the end of April.
Linda Sanchez, coordinator of the Manna Food Pantry in the lower level of Westminster Presbyterian Church, said the March campaign was “absolutely phenomenal. It was her first as coordinator, and she’d set a goal of 75,000 — in both pounds of food and dollars collected — for the month.
“We exceeded it by quite a bit,” she said with a smile. “I want to give a lot of credit to Worthington Regional Health Care Foundation for matching funds. The dollar-for-dollar match helped us tremendously.”
Sanchez said this year’s monetary donations exceeded the 2013 March campaign by more than $25,000, and exceeded the amount of food collected by 8,900 pounds.
“People in the community have really seen that there is a need out there,” she said. “This month of March really proved it.”
The money helps cover the $8,500 monthly expenses of Manna Food Pantry and will be used to purchase food from Second Harvest and local grocers, as well as cover operating expenses, Sanchez said.
Jennifer Griffith, coordinator of the Worthington Christian Church Food Shelf, said she also noted an increase in donations this year, compared to last. Pounds of food donated increased by 1,100 pounds, and monetary donations were $6,200 more than the 2013 March campaign.
“Our money is strictly used to purchase food and, during this campaign is usually when we get the most donations,” Griffith said. “It really helps to even out the year and be able to purchase food for the food pantry.”
The matching contributions from Minnesota FoodShare and the Feinstein Foundation are a percentage of what each of the food shelves collected during the March campaign.
Sanchez said the food that was received is put on the shelves as soon as space becomes available and there is “a little bit of a stockpile” now that the campaign is complete.
Many local churches, businesses and organizations conducted food drives during the month of March to help the food shelves capitalize on the matching contributions. The Nobles County Corn and Soybean Growers contributed $500 to each food shelf, while Land O’Lakes also offered to match the donations given by area farmers. Other large donations came from Avera Worthington Specialty Clinic, the Knights of Columbus, Nobles County Farm Bureau and Thrivent Financial for Lutherans.
The Worthington Christian Church Food Pantry, located at 1501 N. Douglas Ave., is open from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. Monday through Friday, with extended hours on Tuesday from 5 to 7 p.m. Manna Food Pantry, at 230 Clary St., is open from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday, Wednesday and Friday.
Both food pantries are seeking volunteers to help during food distribution days. To help, contact Griffith at 360-9726 or Sanchez at 370-1190.
Daily Globe Reporter Julie Buntjer may be reached at 376-7330.