Pantry clients come from all walks of life

The Milaca Area Pantry helped 659 households receive 240,182 pounds of food in 2013.
This is a special time of year at the Milaca Area Pantry, according to Director Carol Mueller.
“In March, we get a partial match on donations from Minnesota FoodShare,” Mueller said.
Minnesota FoodShare is the organization that helps provide food to the food shelves across the state.
The Milaca Area Pantry also participates in the Feinstein Foundation’s $1 Million Giveaway to Fight Hunger. This is a matching donation to the pantry based on monetary and food donations received during March and April, Mueller said.
But who are the people benefiting from the generous donations being made throughout the year by the people of Milaca?
From people with financial hardships to those unemployed, from people underemployed to accident victims, the Milaca Area Pantry each week is helping people from many walks of life.
One Milaca family has donated to the food shelf in the past in an effort to help others and never dreamed they would be the ones in need of help.
But the client just lost her job and her spouse is on a seasonal layoff.
“It just goes to show you never know what will happen,” the client said.
The Pantry was able to help the family make ends meet by cutting their food bills by more than half.
“By getting food from the food shelf, we are able to pay our other bills,” the client said.
“Hardships as being an underemployed single mother left me wondering where to turn,” said a recent Pantry client. “When I learned of the services the Milaca Area Food Pantry provided, I was afforded a substantial measure of relief.”
The pantry is able to supplement the client’s family grocery budget and provides cleaning and paper products.
Without the Pantry where would the family be?
“I would potentially have to travel upwards of 30 miles round trip to locate another organization that would provide assistance and support that the Milaca Area Food Pantry does.”
Another client said she does not have enough income at present to provide the food needs of her family.
“This really helps us out a lot,” the client said. “There are months when paying household bills (that) there is not much left for food.”
One Pantry client is a divorced, single parent on disability with two dependents.
“I have a fixed income and three-fourths of that income is my rent,” the client said. “I receive $15 a month in food support.”
That’s where the Milaca Area Pantry comes in.
“This helps so I can pay my utility bills and rent. We would go without food without the help here every month,” she said.
Due to an accident, another food pantry client lost her job. The accident left the family with just one income for a large family.
Life has given the family a new set of challenges because it has to pay ongoing medical bills and prescriptions.
“We come to the food shelf twice a month. It helps us have nutritious meals that we might not be otherwise be able to afford,” she said. “Our dollars go only so far at the grocery store.”
The client gave a picture of the role the Pantry can have on a family — in this case, a family of five.
“The food shelf provides us with enough food for quite a few meals if a person is willing to cook,” she said. “We receive everything from milk to meat.”
Prescriptions eat up most of the income for the family, and those prescriptions have to come first.
“Without the Milaca Area Pantry we probably would not have enough food for the month,” she said.
One family recently moved to the area and the woman of the house then lost her job. Three months later, her son lost his job.
“It can take 30 days to be processed for food stamps,” she said.
The Milaca Area Pantry helped fill a need, if only temporary, for this family.
“They are our lifesavers,” the client said. “Without the Pantry we would be going hungry every week.”
Said the client, “I hate to think what would happen to us without their help. We don’t like to take charity, but they are our lifeline until we can get back on our feet.
“These people are literally our guardian angels,” the client said.
There are still some opportunities for Milaca residents to help their neighbors get back on their feet.
The pantry will be the recipient of food donations at the March 22 community breakfast and expo, hosted by the Milaca Area Chamber of Commerce.
Food shelf volunteers will also host a breakfast fundraiser on March 30 at the Milaca American Legion. All proceeds will go the pantry.
Donations can also be mailed to Milaca Area Pantry, P.O. Box 133, Milaca, MN 56353.