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Sourcewell Grant Provides Grant to Support Farm-to-Food Shelf Pilot Program

Web posted August 30, 2022
Sourcewell recently provided a $50,550 grant to help fund a pilot program designed to bring fresh, local produce to friends and neighbors who frequent Lakes Area Food Shelf, Pine River Area Food Shelf, and the Pine River/Backus CommUnity meal Program. The collaborative project – Farm-to-Food Shelf – involves working with Brakstad Farms of Pequot Lakes, to provide freshly grown produce, picked daily, so that our friends and neighbors can eat the healthiest foods possible. Lance Bragstad (photo left), owner of Brakstad Farms, states, “We are excited to be part of this pilot program because each of these organization serves families who face hunger, every day. The nutrition our produce provides is what motivates us to help these food shelves and the community meal program. We hope through the Farm-to-Food Shelf Pilot Program, more farmers will contact us to learn what we are doing, how we are doing it, and how they might do something similar.”

LuAnn Gravelle, Director of The Pine River Area Food Shelf, speaks to joy of friends and neighbors benefitting from the produce. “The hydroponic lettuce is so clean and so fresh, that one of our shoppers pulled a head out of the cooler and started eating it right away…all the while talking about how delicious it is. After shopping through our aisles of food, he asked if he could take another head of the lettuce. That’s one of the great benefits of Sourcewell’s generous grant – our friends and neighbors have an abundance of fresh produce, and we are able to provide them with as much fresh produce as they can use.”

Brian Chaffee, Chef for The Pine River/Backus CommUnity Meal Program serves between 250 ad 350 families, twice a week. Monday evenings he serves families in Pine River and Thursday evenings he serves families in Backus. “As a Chef, it is important to me to make sure we are serving quality  food. I can make a great meal out of just about anything – but this fresh produce makes a world of difference.”

With over 9% inflation, the high cost of gas, and lasting impact of the pandemic, many families are struggling. Grandparents now raising grandchildren. Professionals who work, yet whose monthly rent is increased by $650 with little warning. Seniors who survive on Social Security alone, now facing losing their homes because one spouse suffers major health issues. Parents caring for adult children with major health issues. Many are forced to decide between buying food or paying bills. These are the friends and neighbors who need help from our food shelves and The Pine River/Backus Community Meal Program. Our families say it best. “Do you know what it feels like to go into the grocery store and have to distract your kids, so they don’t ask for fruit and vegetables? I just can’t afford to buy more than the very basics, and even that is tough.”

The need has increased dramatically. “In 2021, Lakes Area Food Shelf served 4,657 people. As of June 31, 2022, we have already served over 5800 individuals. In addition, our food-purchase costs have increased by 62%. The Farm-to-Food Shelf Pilot program grant through Sourcewell is allowing us to provide the highest nutrition possible to friends and neighbors – and it is helping us meet the high costs of food each month. We couldn’t do this without Sourcewell’s financial support,” states Kathy Adams, Director of Lakes Area Food Shelf.

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