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BOX Channel One — Needing more to feed more

By Christina Killion Valdez

Post-Bulletin, Rochester MN

Increases at the gas pumps and in the grocery aisles have left more and more families short of money.

"That really impacts low-income people in a way that doesn’t quite hit the middle class," said Charla Irwin-Buncher, communication and development director at Channel One Food Bank and Food Shelf.

Because of those cost-of-living increases, more families and individuals rely on Channel One to help put food on the table. Last year, the food shelf served an average of 3,200 low-income households in Olmsted County each month, up from 1,100 families a month in 2000.

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Now it’s time to make sure the food bank and food shelf doesn’t come up short too.

This month Channel One hopes to bring in donations of $110,000 and 75,000 pounds of food as part of the 26th annual Minnesota FoodShare March Campaign. That’s $10,000 and 25,000 pounds of food more than last year’s March goal, to meet increased needs, Irwin-Buncher said.

To help out, religious groups, businesses, schools and individuals throughout Olmsted County are holding fundraisers and food drives. Bamber Valley Elementary School already delivered $471 and 1,646 pounds of food. As in past years, many organizations are getting creative in their fund-raising efforts, like Bethel Lutheran Church’s "Super Tuna" drive, she said.

So far Channel One has received 21,919 pounds of food and $33,859 — not even half the goal although the month is half over.

Reaching the goal not only brings in donations, but connects Channel One to other important funding sources, Irwin-Buncher said. Each year, contributions made at the state level are divided among the state’s 300 food shelves based on the success of local campaigns. Plus, each year Rhode Island philanthropist Shawn Allen Feinstein divides $1 million among hunger relief organizations across the country based on the amount raised by organizations during the months of March and April, she said.

To donate

Send checks to Channel One, 131 35th St. S.E., Rochester, MN 55904.

Donate online at www.helpingfeedpeople.org.

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Call 424-1721 for the food drop-off barrel nearest you.

Denim for Dollars Days

Local businesses can offer employees the opportunity to buy a casual clothing day at work in support of Channel One. To participate, contact Channel One at 287-2350.

For more information, go to Postbulletin.com/weblinks.

Channel One: http://www.helpingfeedpeople.org/

http://www.gmcc.org/foodshare

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