Anoka County Brotherhood Council, Inc. (ACBC) Emergency Food Shelf is again venturing to receive part of the $100,000 Food Shelf Challenge Grant from Open Your Heart to the Hungry and Homeless this July. ACBC Food Shelf received $1,528 from the grant through Open Your Heart last year after raising $14,609 in donations.
Open Your Heart awards the recipients of the challenge grant based on the amount they raise during the month of July.
Open Your Heart Director Arna Yetter said this type of grant encourages the local food shelves and gives the community more incentive to donate.
“People like knowing their donation is having a leverage,” Yetter said. “When they donate they know the food shelf will get more money.”
ACBC Executive Director Jerri Loughry said the summer months are typically slower for donations because many people are on vacation or aren’t connected to the food shelf for volunteering and donations through their church or school group. While the demand for food has been consistently on the rise at ACBC this year, it significantly increases during the summer months. Loughry said the summer months are more difficult for low-income families because the kids are home from school.
“It usually strains the food budget, having the kids home,” Loughry said.
This summer, however, there are also several free lunch options available through the Anoka-Hennepin School District, according to Loughry.
Through the challenge grant, Open Your Heart contributes a percentage match for each dollar donated to the food shelf. This is the third year Open Your Heart has offered the challenge grant and Yetter said it has been having an impact. Open Your Heart started the grant as a way to get the community around the local food shelves involved.
“You see holiday food drives and March is Food Share Month, but there’s nothing in the summer to encourage the local food shelves… if anything the families are stretched in the summer more than the rest of the year,” she said.
Open Your Heart to the Hungry and Homeless is a non-profit organization that has been around for 26 years, according to Yetter. The $100,000 awarded through the challenge grant is raised solely by individuals that chose to receive a payroll deduction to be given to Open Your Heart. Open Your Heart does not receive any federal or state funding.
For each dollar ACBC receives in donations and from the grant they can obtain four pounds of food through the Second Harvest Food Bank. ACBC’s Emergency Food Shelf serves seven different cities, including Andover, Anoka, Coon Rapids, Nowthen, Oak Grove, Ramsey and part of Champlin. ACBC is one of seven food shelves serving Anoka County. Loughry said they are frequently visited by low-income families in emergency situations that need food. From May 2011 to May 2012, ACBC served over 10,000 families.
Loughry said they hope to receive more donations this year than last year and have been trying to get the word out online. Those wishing to donate may contact ACBC Food Shelf at acbcfoodshelf.org or 763-422-0046.
Bethany Kemming is at firstname.lastname@example.org