USDA partners with local food shelves

The U.S. Department of Agriculture is pairing up with local food shelves and pantries to fill a gap left by a slump in summer donations and prevent millions of families from going hungry.

Mille Lacs County District Conservationist with the USDA Shannon Carpenter and Milaca Area Pantry Director Carol Mueller collaborated to determine which items were locally in greatest demand. They concluded the following items, in order of importance, were needed to stock the local food pantry shelves:

1. Canned proteins (tuna,  salmon, chicken, peanut butter and beans.)

2. Canned fruits.

3. Canned vegetables (low sodium corn, green beans and peas.)

4. Multigrain cereal (Cheerios, Cornflakes, Grapenuts, etc.)

5. Grains (brown and white rice, oatmeal, bulgur, couscous, macaroni and cheese, etc.)

6. Paper products and household items (paper towels, napkins, cleaning supplies, etc.)

7. Hygiene items (diapers, deodorants, feminine products, toilet paper, tissues, bar soap, toothpaste, shampoo, etc.)

While the canned goods are well-known staples of food shelves and pantries, Carpenter said many may not think of the paper products and hygiene items when making their donation.

“If you don’t have money to buy food, you probably don’t have money to by that stuff either,” she said.

The goal is to receive 1,000 pounds of donations by the end of the drive on August 31.

“They can drop items off here at the office at any point,” Carpenter said of the SWCD office at Maple Ridge Mall in Milaca. “And of course they can donate at the food shelf when they’re open on Thursdays.”