For over 60 years the Centennial Community Food Shelf (CCFS) has served the community to provide nourishment to people. By 2017, the organization hopes to reach more people through a brand new countywide program.
“On a monthly basis, the heads of each of the food shelves (within Anoka County) get together and look at how we can network together and what they can provide by working together,” said CCFS President Ron Koon.
The five area food shelves, including Southern Anoka County Assistance (SACA), Community Emergency Assistance Programs (CEAP), Anoka County Brotherhood Council (ACBC), North Anoka County Emergency Food Shelf (NACE) and CCFS, received a grant from Hunger Solutions.
After receiving the grant, the five organizations formed a consortium, Anoka CAN (Connect and Nourish) and started a new program, Anoka CAN Deliver in January 2016.
The food delivery program provides food and resources to homebound seniors (62 and over who meet specific income guidelines), and works to build
long-lasting relationships so seniors needs and wants are met and they are able to be active in the community.
“It is not like Meals on Wheels, where they just go and drop (meals) off, but they actually stop in and visit with them and try to tie them back into the community and get them information.” Koon said. “We are trying not only to get seniors the food they need, but also connect them back into the community.”
Anoka CAN plans to recruit and train volunteer drivers who will not only deliver food boxes but will also build relationships, provide safety checks and bring the community to seniors during their home visits.
ACBC, CEAP, NACE and SACA were chosen to pilot the program. Koon said the hope is that CCFS will have the program up and running by 2017. To learn more about the program, contact CEAP coordinator at 763-783-4942.
Until the program is up and running, CCFS will continue to serve community members as it has during its longstanding history of providing nourishment. The organization began in the 1950s when Ed Bloomstrand collected food and left baskets on the doorsteps of needy families for the holidays.
In addition to serving clients on a once-a-month basis with a traditional food shelf with distributions twice a week, the organization also distributes baskets of holiday meals to clients three to four times a year.
A newer program, which was implemented in 2013, is the Powerpack program. The program is a weekend food program for students to take home a bag of nonperishable food items at the end of every week during the school year. The program, which was originally implemented at Centennial Middle School and Golden Lake Elementary, is now offered at every building within the district.
In 2015, CCFS served an average of 239 families per month and distributed 242,759 pounds of food, compared to 217 families a month and 221,387 pounds of food in 2014.
Dave Bonneville of Circle Pines has received assistance from CCFS for three years. “I am 80 years old and my wife is 76. They (the volunteers) are fabulous. It helps pick up the slack and I only take what I need,” he said.
Koon wants the public to know that “we are here and available for them if they need us.”