Delano food shelf ends holiday baskets

Delano Helping Hands Food shelf on Oct. 29 wrote a letter to area churches saying that, for budgetary reasons, it has decided to end its tradition of giving Thanksgiving and Christmas food baskets to neighbors in need.

As an alternative, some churches will host holiday dinners for neighbors in need served by Love In the Name of Christ Heartland (Love INC). Reservations will be required. Love INC is a collaboration of more than 20 area churches that serves neighbors in need. Its headquarters are in Delano.

The letter from Helping Hands to churches says, in part, “After much discussion and consideration we have decided to discontinue the Holiday Food Baskets for Thanksgiving and Christmas. We have looked at our budget at this time and feel we should use our money to keep the food shelf open every week serving the daily needs of clients. Donations are down, groceries prices are going up and the increase in families requesting food has gone up.”

The letter continued, “Delano Helping Hands Food shelf remains committed to providing emergency food supplies to those in need within our community.”

Helping Hands is encouraging member churches of Love INC and other community organizations to hold food drives. Cash donations enable the food shelf to purchase food from Second Harvest Food Bank at a much lower cost per pound than the average consumer can. “Individual food drives throughout the year would be helpful,” the food shelf said in its letter.

“If you are planning a food drive please call us,” the letter said. “We would like to start a calendar showing the months with the church or group that is sponsoring a food drive. In this way we could have donations of food coming in throughout the year. Thank you for your help and for your volunteers.” Questions can be directed to Jeanie Pilarski, 763-972-3360, or Helping Hands Chair Sandy Pikus, 763-972-3723.

To quickly and fairly serve its clients, Helping Hands provides standard pre-packed bags of food to each household. Bags are pre-packed bags with non-perishable items based on household size. Established quantities of cold storage and perishable items for each household size also are provided.

“This removes volunteer discrimination and enables a consistent quantity per individual of standard basics,” the food shelf said in its letter.

Helping Hands also provided households of school age children pre-packed breakfast and lunch bags during the summer. During school months, the food shelf provides pre-packed snack bags to partially fill needs of children “after school” who may have limited evening meals.

“We want to continue with the above on a weekly basis,” Helping Hands said in its letter. “Individual households may use the food shelf once a month. We do not turn anyone away. If there is a need to have more than one visit they will be helped.”

The food shelf said it is grateful for the support it has received from the Delano Community and surrounding area.