As the weather begins to turn toward fall, changes have been in the air at the White Bear Area Emergency Food Shelf, as well. I am honored to introduce myself as the new executive director, and share some updates on how the food shelf continues to grow and evolve to meet the needs of our neighbors.
I have worked in the White Bear community for the past 20 years, and for the past two years, I served on the board of directors of the food shelf, and volunteered regularly with my family. I was already a passionate and involved supporter of the food shelf, but since becoming executive director in August, I have been able to learn even more about the huge impact the food shelf has in our community.
Our mission at the food shelf is to provide food and support to our neighbors in need, in partnership with the communities of the White Bear area. I can truly see this mission becoming reality every day. We provide more than 61,000 meals to over 1,000 families each month – an 11% increase since 2018. Unfortunately, more of our neighbors from all walks of life are facing food insecurity.
Luckily, while the level of need is growing, the generosity in the White Bear area also continues to grow. Our funding comes from individuals, local business, foundations, community groups, and churches.
As we have provided an increasing number of meals, “food rescue” – taking good, edible food that would otherwise go to waste and distributing to those in need – has become increasingly important. Over 50% of the food we distribute – approximately 300,000 pounds – comes from our local grocery stores. Special thanks to Kowalskis, Lunds & Byerlys, Target, Fresh Thyme, and Kwik Trip for their generosity in partnering with us.
Individuals in our community have made supporting the food shelf a part of their lives, and we are so grateful for their efforts. Gloria Carpenter helped raise $11,400 through her eighth annual “Shortest Marathon” last week. My family was able to participate this year, and we had a blast – we made it through the entire block-long race, and we loved seeing the energy and enthusiasm Gloria has as she pulls together friends, family, local businesses and churches.
Our critical work simply would not be possible without the generous and ongoing support from our community. As I settle in to my new role at the food shelf, I am looking forward to exploring new ways we can work together to strengthen the White Bear Lake community.