A good time to share: Donations to Valley Outreach worth more in March

This "can-struction" at the Stillwater Library donation site raises awareness for the March food and fund drive that benefits Valley Outreach. (Gazette staff photo by Jonathan Young)

This “can-struction” at the Stillwater Library donation site raises awareness for the March food and fund drive that benefits Valley Outreach. (Gazette staff photo by Jonathan Young)

March is a great month to share.

Thanks to Minnesota FoodShare’s March Campaign, all donations of food or money to Valley Outreach this month will be partially matched. The Feinstein Foundation, based in Rhode Island, is also making $1 million available for partial-matching funds to food campaigns across the country.

“For us, this is the only partial-matching opportunity we have all year,” Valley Outreach Executive Director Tracy Maki said.

Maki said it makes sense to participate in the March Campaign, both to receive partial-matching funds and because of the increased awareness across Minnesota this month.

“It’s a statewide campaign, and it’s supported by Minnesota FoodShare,” she said. “Their goal is to stock up all the food shelves across the state, so that by the time summer hits we have a really good inventory.”

It’s important to have a good inventory before the summer, because donations tend to decrease in the summer months. At the same time, the need rises, as many students who receive free and reduced-cost lunches at school can’t get those meals.

And hunger is a problem in the area, Maki said, even though some don’t realize it. Valley Outreach now serves about 400 families a month.

“Hunger is almost a hidden issue,” Maki said. “When you’re looking at Washington county you think, we couldn’t possibly have that here.’ You think that only happens … in other counties that aren’t as well off as we are. But it’s a growing percentage of our neighbors that are suffering from food insecurity.”

To expand its reach and make it even easier for people to donate, Valley Outreach is partnering with close to 100 local businesses, churches, schools and organizations to coordinate food and fund drives.

Monetary contributions are especially helpful, because through its buying partners the food shelf can purchase $10-worth of food for every $1 donated.

Food donations are also helpful, and Valley Outreach is emphasizing its “five most-wanted” items that are expensive for the food shelf to purchase: canned fruits and vegetables, peanut butter, canned fish and meat, brown and white rice and oils and dressings.

For more information and to see which organizations are supporting the food and fund drive, go to valleyoutreachmn.org. You can also bring donations to Valley Outreach at 1931 Curve Crest Blvd.

Contact Jonathan Young at jonathan.young@ecm-inc.com

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