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Manna Food Pantry participates in July campaign

WORTHINGTON -- Throughout the month of July, the Manna Food Pantry in Worthington will be collecting donations of food and money as part of the 2013 Food Shelf Challenge from Open Your Heart to the Hungry and Homeless.

Dennis Weeks, coordinator of Manna Food Pantry, said that in the 2012 campaign, $650 was raised locally to alleviate hunger in the community. This year's goal is $1,000, which will be leveraged by a $150,000 grant from Open Your Heart to the Hungry and Homeless.

Feeding the hungry is an ongoing mission at Manna Food Pantry, where volunteers continually see clients who have to choose between purchasing life-saving medicine or food; or see families who have to decide which kids will go hungry because there isn't enough food in the house.

"These are the decisions one in five Minnesota families has to make," Weeks said. "These are your friends, your co-workers, your neighbors."

Last July, 368 families visited the Manna Food Pantry, Weeks said. Statewide, approximately 8,000 individuals visit food shelves each day.

"You can make a real difference this year by donating throughout the month of July," he added. "The more you donate, the larger our food shelf's grant from Open Your Heart to the Hungry and Homeless will be."

Contributions to the food shelf will be matched by challenge funds, which will extend the buying power of the pantry.

"We can purchase food from our food bank for pennies on the pound," Weeks said, adding that $55 will purchase 450 pounds of food from Second Harvest and feed three families of three persons for six days.

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 every year through Hunger Solutions Minnesota.