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Make a difference in the fight against hunger

During the month of October, grocery customers can make a difference in the fight against hunger.

The Minnesota Grocers Association's third annual "Minnesota's Own" promotion is on now through the end of the month.

Locally, customers at Elden's Food Fair can help by either purchasing products for the food shelf or by donating cash.

Elliot Christensen of Elden's said his store is supporting the Minnesota's Own program and hopes that it will help fill up the Douglas County Food Shelf.

"We are asking our customers to make donations at the cash register," said Christensen.

And the best part, he added, is that Elden's will match the donations up to $1,000. If the public can donate cash or non-perishable food items up to $1,000, then Elden's will match it and the food shelf will receive $2,000.

In today's world, when food is such a big budget item for families, food drives become much more important, noted Christensen.

"People can skip going to the movies or the mall, but when it comes to breakfast, lunch and dinner, everyone needs to eat," he said. "I believe we can make a difference with this effort."

The Minnesota's Own promotion is also running in grocery stores in the Brainerd, Bemidji, Duluth, Mankato, Minneapolis, Rochester, St. Cloud and St. Paul areas.

Ads for the promotion will be running in newspapers across the state and will list participating retailers and vendors. Customers are encouraged to support the companies and do their part to make a difference in the fight against hunger.

"During this time of economic challenge, Minnesota's Own provides an excellent opportunity to increase awareness of a social issue that affects all our communities," said Jamie Pfuhl, president of the Minnesota Grocers Association.

Pete's County Market in Alexandria is also helping out the local food shelf. It is holding its own program - Stuff-A-Truck - which runs now through the end of November.

Students in area schools are encouraged to bring non-perishable food items to school and then Pete's will drive around to pick them up - stuffing its truck with food. All the food is then donated to the local food shelf.

About the Douglas County Food Shelf

The Douglas County Food Shelf, which has been in existence since 1982, is located at 1205 Lake Street in Alexandria.

The food shelf serves 10 to 16 families per day, but can reach as many as 20 families per day. No one has ever been turned away from the food shelf.

In the last 10 years, the Douglas County Food Shelf has helped nearly 62,000 people - that's about six times the population of Alexandria.

"We just want people who need food to know we are here for them," said Mary Sinning, food shelf board member. "And we don't want people to let pride stand in the way of a need. Our goal is to make sure no one goes hungry."

The Douglas County Food Shelf is run on an all-volunteer basis, said Sinning, adding that there is not one single paid employee. In all, there are more than 30 volunteers who help run the food shelf, which is open Monday through Thursday from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Some of the volunteers have worked at the food shelf for more than 20 years.

Board members include Norm Anderson, Ed Desautels, Ron Domschot, Alice Giefer, Tom Savageau and Mary Sinning.

To set up an appointment, people are asked to call Wings Family Support Services at (320) 763-6638. For questions or more information, call the food shelf at (320) 762-8976.