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Many people count on small-town food shelves to help with their daily food needs. From Le Center to Jordan to Waconia and throughout the state of Minnesota, food shelves distribute thousands of pounds of food to help families who lack sufficient food.

Although the need for food assistance stays relatively constant each month of the year, the holiday season typically sees an upward trend in food shelf visits among people seeking food, as well as kind people donating food.

In Chaska at the site of the Bountiful Basket Food Shelf of Eastern Carver County, we typically distribute over 30,000 pounds of food per month, serving primarily the residents of Carver, Chanhassen, Chaska and Victoria. Each year, statistics show, the Bountiful Basket serves 13,099 individuals, of whom 4,594 are children and 1,143 are senior citizens.

Many small-town food shelves, including those in Carver County, are totally dependent on volunteers for their management and daily operations, including board meetings, scheduling client appointments, providing site visit assistance, receptionist duties, food pickup, food warehousing and product shelving, as well as keeping track of all the incoming and outgoing food and dollar donations.

In many smaller communities it is oftentimes the local churches and their parishioners that are the mainstay of support, both in providing much of the food in spreading the word that the food shelf is there to help those in need.

In addition, the Bountiful Basket receives sizable food contributions as part of our food rescue program with area businesses including Target, Cub, Lunds & Byerlys, Aldi and Coopers. Local civic organizations have also proven essential in providing the dollars necessary for food shelves to purchase the basic food types necessary to help feed families in need.

Over the past year the Bountiful Basket has built on food partnerships with area nonprofits that help young adults, including the Hope House and Launch Ministry. Recently we have started a program where food is taken once a month to senior citizens living in Chaska apartments who do not have the means to access the food shelf site. Food products are also provided as needed to Families Moving Forward, New Beginnings school and a weekly free meal program offered at St. John’s Lutheran Church.

If you are looking for a worthy cause during the holiday season where 100% of your contribution will be put to good use, please consider your small-town food shelf.

Thank you for caring for those who are less fortunate.

Tom Redman is chairman of Bountiful Basket Food Shelf of Eastern Carver County.