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Michelle Rageth Viewpoint: Minnesota FoodShare Month is big for food shelf

Exciting things are happening at the Friends in Need Food Shelf. March is Minnesota FoodShare Month. The money, toiletries and food that we receive during the month of March are partially matched by Minnesota FoodShare and the Feinstein Foundation.

As most of you know, money is always best as we purchase most of our food from Second Harvest. If you would like to send a check, please mail it to Friends in Need, P.O. Box 6, Cottage Grove, MN 55016. If you would like to do a drive in March, we would really encourage you to consider toiletry items such as bar soap, shampoo, toilet paper, deodorant, feminine hygiene products, dish soap and large size diapers instead of food so we don't need to worry about expiration dates. Also, the Scouts are planning their cash and toiletry drive for April 6 so please look for their fliers.

We want to thank everyone for their support of our Share the Joy program this past Thanksgiving and Christmas. We also want to thank all of those who helped make the Holiday Train fundraiser the best yet. This wonderful community fundraiser is extremely important to us as we use this money to purchase food for quite a few months.

We've been blessed to receive fresh produce from Guardian Angels Church and the Newport Community Garden for years and we are really grateful for all of the hard work these groups put into their gardens. We've now entered into a new partnership with Fields to Families, which allows us to purchase additional fresh produce from Hmong gardeners. By supplementing what we already are receiving from Guardian Angels and Newport, it allows us to be even more generous. Giving out healthy food has been a high priority for us and we are looking for churches or individuals who would like to help us by contributing financially so we can purchase these healthy items.

This past year, we served over 37,000 people. The reason we are so successful is that we are supported so generously by the community around us. Our local businesses, civic organizations, schools and churches are amazing. With Northern Tier Energy donating our building and utilities and the generosity of our donors, we are able to keep up with the demand. We couldn't do this without you.