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Second annual $100,000 Food Shelf Challenge Grant announced

Sue Hardy (left) and Diane Holz reminisced about moving day 25 years ago, when t

PILLAGER — The Pillager Area Food Shelf recently announced for the second year in a row, it will be participating in the Open Your Heart to the Hungry and Homeless second annual $100,000 Food Shelf Challenge Grant.

Last year, Minnesota food shelves raised $1 million with this grant and hope to outpace that this year. Open Your Heart to the Hungry and Homeless believes this approach to hunger alleviation is effective because it brings communities together to solve a growing concern across Minnesota. The $100,000 Challenge will power a statewide initiative leveraging Open Your Heart funding to bring additional dollars to food shelves and increase awareness of child hunger during the summer.  

During the month of July, dollars donated to the Pillager Area Food Shelf will result in receiving a larger grant from Open Your Heart, which is proportionally matching funds raised. Funds raised throughout this campaign will allow the Pillager Area Food Shelf to triple their return on donations received.

Purchasing food from their food bank, the Pillager Area Food Shelf is able to purchase food at pennies on the pound. For example a $55 donation will purchase 450 pounds of food from Second Harvest Food Bank and feeds three families of three for six days.  

“All families are under financial pressure to feed their children during the summer and food shelves are pressured to respond to child hunger during the summer,” said Pillager Family Center Director Betty Doss in a news release.  “Only one in six low-income children who ate a school lunch during the regular school year is reached by the Federally funded Summer Nutrition Programs.”

Minnesota food shelves help families obtain the groceries they cannot afford to purchase on their own. People served by food shelves report having to choose between paying for food and paying for utilities and other necessities. In the past decade in Minnesota, the number of children living in poverty has increased by 53 percent. That means one in five families with children are now at risk for hunger in Minnesota. Currently in Minnesota, 37 percent of all K-12 public school students are eating subsidized meals.

The Pillager Area Food Shelf is operated by the Pillager Family Council, a nonprofit organization which has been serving children and families in the Pillager area since 1992. The Pillager Area Food Shelf is open on Thursdays from noon until 5 p.m. though food can be distributed at other times in case of emergency.  

Open Your Heart to the Hungry and Homeless has 25 years of experience as the only grant provider in Minnesota focused solely on alleviating hunger and homelessness. Open Your Heart helps food and shelter providers of all sizes get the resources they need to serve more people, including mattresses, freezers, fresh produce and roof repairs. They also support homeless students by providing school supplies, activity fees, gym shoes, tutoring materials and other essentials that help them engage fully in school. For more information:  

Donations may be dropped off or mailed to: Pillager Area Food Shelf, 305 Fir Avenue W., Pillager, MN 56473. For more information, call 746-4009, or go online to