Fourth Annual Summer Food Shelf Challenge

By John Michaelson
Minnesota News Connection

With summer traditionally a tough time for food shelves, a statewide effort is helping donation dollars go further this month. The fourth annual Food Shelf Summer Challenge runs through July with $150,000 in matching funds available, from the group “Open Your Heart to the Hungry and Homeless.”

According to Open Your Heart’s communications and administrative associate, Kristin Zoellner, every little bit helps.

“Whether it’s a small donation or a large donation, we would just encourage people to make a gift,” she said. “It’s a great time to build a relationship with the local food shelf in your neighborhood or the food shelf in the town where you grew up. It would really make an extra difference in July.”

The other partner in the effort is Hunger Solutions of Minnesota, which has the list of more than 160 participating food shelves on its website.

Zoellner said the number of visits to food shelves from families with children has been growing for years in Minnesota. She explained that the need is especially great over the summer, as donations go down while usage increases, with kids out of school.

“So, the free lunch and free breakfast programs are unavailable and food shelves see really high usage during that time,” she pointed out. “They say one in five Minnesota families with kids are visiting food shelves.”

In the first three years of the challenge, food shelves in the state raised more than $3 million to help the hungry.

More information is at