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Food Pantry offers help throughout the holiday season

Posted 12/01/10 (Wed)

By Tina Foreman   
Farmer Staff Writer

For many people, food is something we don’t think about too much. When you or your kids are hungry, all you need to do is go to a cupboard or the fridge and there is something to eat. Unfortunately, this isn’t the case for everyone. Especially in the winter months when seasonal workers are laid off. A situation that can  make the holidays a very difficult time to get through. However, for those needing some help filling their fridge and cupboards, the McKenzie County Food Pantry is here to help.
“The Food Pantry is here to serve those in need,” says Marcia Hellandsaas, North Dakota State University Extension agent. “It doesn’t matter if someone needs help every month or just one time. The Food Pantry is open to everyone, no matter what the size of the family or the amount of need.”
The McKenzie County Food Pantry is open the third Tuesday of every month from 2 to 4 p.m. in the basement of the First Lutheran Church. However, on Dec. 21, the pantry will stay open until 7 p.m. For those who find themselves in need in-between the open dates, or are not able to get to the Food Pantry during its open hours, the McKenzie County Social Services will open the Food Pantry by appointment.
“The Food Pantry serves all sorts of people,” adds Hellandsaas. “There are senior citizens who are on a fixed income, people who are injured and can’t work, seasonal workers and many others down on their luck. We are given income guidelines to follow, but we don’t ask for any income verification or identification. Recipients simply sign off that they are receiving the items.”
The Food Pantry contains all sorts of food items, including meats. It also has many personal care items available.
“We always seem to get low on items during the holidays,” says Hellandsaas. “The interesting part is that we often receive donations from past recipients. We appreciate all donations, but when a past recipient donates, it is especially nice because that means that the Food Pantry did what it was supposed to do, and they were able to get through the tough times and are now remembering others.”
In addition to helping people during the holidays, the Food Pantry can also use some help.
“Our supplies always get low this time of the year and our next truck won’t arrive until after Christmas,” adds Hellandsaas. “It’s times like this that community donations really help out.”
According to Hellandsaas, the Food Pantry is in need of canned items, especially canned fruits, vegetables and soups. They also need pastas, peanut butter and personal care items including toilet paper, Kleenex, diapers, shampoos and lotions. The Food Pantry also accepts monetary donations which are used to help restock when things get low before the truck comes.
“In addition to supplies, we can always use more volunteer help,” states Hellandsaas. “We need people to help while we are open and to stock shelves after our truck comes. So if you’re interested in helping but can’t donate items, there are other options.”
It’s easy to get wrapped up in the glitz and glitter of the holiday season and forget that not everyone is having as great a holiday season as you, but it only takes a little effort to make a  big difference.
“The Food Pantry is a very vital part of the community,” says Hellandsaas. “It is a way for people to continue providing for themselves and their family, even when times are tough. The Food Pantry provides for those people that we often forget about.”
For information on receiving help from the Food Pantry or to donate, contact Hellandsaas at 444-3451. Food or personal items can be dropped off at Watford City First Lutheran Church.