Help feed the community

With an average of 36,000 pounds distributed monthly to approximately
900 people per month through the Family Pathways Cambridge Food Pantry,
donations are more important now than ever.

Rachel Kytonen
[email protected]

With an average of 36,000 pounds distributed monthly to approximately 900 people per month through the Family Pathways Cambridge Food Pantry, donations are more important now than ever.

John Hirsch, of John Hirsch’s Cambridge Motors, Pastor Bill Berg with New Hope Community Church, and Jason Southworth, Family Pathways Food Pantry Coordinator, are asking for the Cambridge community’s help to fill the shelves at the food pantry.

Southworth said the need at the food shelf has never been greater.

“Our need keeps going up by 35 to 50 percent each month,” Southworth said. “The idea of this community-wide food drive is so needed, and we have the numbers to show it.”

Southworth said on average, around 900 individuals are served monthly at the food shelf, with 36,000 pounds of food distributed. Of the 900 individuals served, comprising of approximately 400 families.

The Community-Wide Food Drive will be held the first week in March, in conjunction with Minnesota Food Share Month.

During this week, Hirsch, Berg and Southworth, are asking all businesses, community organizations, churches, schools, and other members of the community to set up a collection site at their location and ask each one their employees to bring in one, non-perishable food pantry item.

John Hirsch’s Cambridge Motors has committed to picking up all of the collections at each participating business in Cambridge and transporting them to the food pantry. At the end of the first week in March, the business just needs to contact Sue Slater at John Hirsch’s who will arrange for the pick-up.

For those looking to give food donations earlier, now through the end of February, John Hirsch’s has a van inside their building that they are looking to fill with food donation items. If your business brings in food items, it’s welcome to put a logo-friendly magnet or decal on the van.

As part of this food drive, John Hirsch’s is also running a contest that involves guessing the total number of pounds of food donated. If you bring in five items or more, you will receive five guesses. Whoever guesses closest to the total number of pounds of food donated, will win a $300 Visa gift card.

“I really started thinking about doing this after hearing about David Luther’s ‘Feed the Hungry Children’ food drive,” Hirsch said. “After hearing about this, I knew we had to go back and do something for our community, and the Family Pathways Food Shelf. I knew our employees here would want to be involved with it, and then we decided to open it up to the general public.”

Hirsch said his employees have been very supportive.

“Our employees have appreciated the opportunity to make a difference, and realize they have a chance to change even one person’s life,” Hirsch said. “One non-perishable food item can be a meal for someone. I think we have a lot of great people and businesses in the community, and I think our vision will really be shared. We hope to partner with other businesses on this project.”

Berg said he will be in touch with a lot of the church community, and hopes the Cambridge churches will support the food drive.

“I’m hoping we receive enough food to ‘bury’ Bill Berg,” Berg said. “We are hoping with this food drive to tap into the Cambridge community as a whole, and pull in the schools, businesses and churches. Even though this is mainly geared toward Cambridge, it will benefit the entire county since the Cambridge food shelf serves the entire Isanti County area.”

Southworth said any donation will make a difference.

“We realize not everyone has money to give, but most people have one can of food they can give,” Southworth said.

Berg noted he’s hoping this Community-Wide Food Drive will become an annual event.

About the Cambridge Food Pantry

Southworth said while the other Family Pathways Food Pantries serve around 200 families per month, the Cambridge Food Pantry averages around 400 families per month.

He said it’s really helpful when a family can call two days in advance to plan their appointment. He said the Cambridge pantry is booked every half-hour with families coming in.

Families can come to the Cambridge Food Pantry once a month for all their food items, and weekly to collect fresh bread, bakery and produce. Southworth said each individual that comes to the food pantry receives an average of 35 pounds of food, which gives them enough food for three meals per day, for nine days.

Southworth said food donations were really good in December around the holidays, but have dropped off again the past couple of months.

Since March is Minnesota Food Share Month, Southworth said it’s a great time to give.

Minnesota Food Share was founded in 1982 as a faith-based response to local hunger. During March, Minnesota corporations and individuals will match a percentage of the food and dollars the food pantry receives, and also the Feinstein Foundation will match a percentage of what food shelves receive during March.

If people are able to give cash donations, Southworth wants to remind them that if they give their cash donation directly to the food pantry, $1 can buy $5 worth of food through Second Harvest Heartland, a state food share bank.

For more information on the Community-Wide Food Drive, you can contact anyone of the organizers: John Hirsch/Sue Slater, 763-689-7600; Jason Southworth, 763-552-3663 or Pastor Bill Berg at 763-221-3513. Signs and flyers with more information will also soon be displayed around town.