During this pandemic, many people are looking for ways to give back. We appreciate that our county is full of hand-raisers and do-gooders. One big effect of the current crisis is a growing number of families and individuals who are food insecure and rely on our local food shelf. Food insecurity means that someone’s access to food or eating has decreased because of a lack of money and other resources. As people in our community face furloughs, layoffs, and other financial challenges the need to have access to low-cost and free food has increased.  

Quick History of the Dodge County Food Shelf

The Dodge County Food Shelf was established in 1981. It was started by a group of representatives from various county businesses and was known as the Dodge County Resource Council. The food shelf was housed within the SEMCAC office located on Main Street, in Dodge Center. In the beginning, the food stock was placed on a single bookcase. When a package of food was given to a client, a local church was contacted to bring in bags of food to replenish the bookcase. In 1990, SEMCAC began fully operating the Dodge County Food Shelf. From 1990 to 1998 the food shelf was located at 11- 2nd Ave SW Dodge Center. By 1998, usage of the food shelf had grown considerably and the SEMCAC office in Dodge County had outgrown their space, as well. So, the food shelf and contact office were re-located to 104-1st St NW Dodge Center. In 2009, the food shelf re-located again, to 20 East Veterans Memorial Highway Kasson. This move gave them more space as they saw a significant increase in food shelf visits. In 2019, they recognized the need for an even larger location and the need for more and closer client parking, a separate delivery space, as well as increased visibility. Their current location is 105 S. Mantorville Avenue in Kasson.  
You can help the local food shelf and families by volunteering. To make sure everyone is able to give back while keeping themselves safe, we have put together a list of ways to help that can be done from home as well as in-person.

Ways to Help People Who are Food Insecure from Home

1. Donate The easiest way to help from home – donate! United Way of Dodge County works with the local food shelf who leads the fight against hunger. By donating you are amplifying our collective impact in the community. Donations through the United Way of Dodge County will be directed to the local food shelf.  
2. Write a Lawmaker Recent legislative bills, like the CARES Act, do a great deal to support people who are food insecure. But there are many year-round anti-hunger programs that could use more support. You can help keep these important programs in place and encourage lawmakers to pass policies that prioritize access to healthy foods for families by writing letters or calling our local lawmakers. Here are a few suggestions on what to advocate for:
  • Protect access to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), the nation’s largest anti-hunger program. SNAP provides access to food for those who cannot afford it. It’s an important temporary lifeline for millions of Americans – mostly children, seniors, and veterans.
  • Support the Child Nutrition program reauthorization. Call on Congress to protect and strengthen access to these programs to ensure all kids can be healthy and thrive.
  • Ask to increase funding for Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC), a program that stabilizes families when their incomes and assets are limited and ensures babies, mothers, children, and families have access to nutritious food in tough times.
  3. Call Local Farms, Stores, and Restaurants About Food Rescue Programs Traditional sources of donations to food banks are changing. With this turn of events, food banks are increasingly relying on food rescue programs. Volunteers can help from home by contacting possible suppliers, such as local farms that used to sell items to restaurants as well stores and restaurants that might have non-perishable items to see if they are willing to donate food.  

Ways to Help People Who are Food Insecure In-Person

4. Donate Non-perishable Food The Dodge County Food Shelf is distributing more food than ever to meet the great need for food assistance during the coronavirus pandemic. Donating non-perishable food items is a great way to give back. Families experiencing food insecurity rely on donated food at food pantries to help them stretch their budgets. Tip: Focus on healthy foods like proteins and whole grains to help increase access to healthy food for local families. Or before you buy items, call ahead to the food shelf to find out what they need most.   5. Pick-up Food from Local Farms, Stores, & Restaurants If a local farmer, grocery store, or restaurant is willing to donate food, instead of throwing it out because it can’t be sold, volunteers are needed to collect those items and transport them to local organizations.   6. Sign-up for a Shift at the Food Shelf The food shelf needs volunteers to sort donations and serve food. Sometimes they have shifted to preparing to-go boxes so customers do not have to enter the building.  They need volunteers to put items in these boxes and hand them out.   7. Meal Delivery to Seniors More seniors are unable to go to the grocery store, so the need for home-delivered meals is growing. Delivered meals help seniors in need maintain a well-balanced diet and stay healthy. Volunteers prepare and deliver meals to seniors. United Way of Dodge County supports the local Meals on Wheels program that helps seniors have access to hot meals. Contact the Dodge County program if you are in need or would like to volunteer. Click for more information: https://www.semcac.org/senior-services/meals-on-wheels/   Thank you in advance for going the extra step for your neighbors. We’re in this together and our community is stronger because of your support!