Giving Hearts Day is just around the corner and the United Way of Crookston has announced they’ll be offering their collection of the day’s donations to the New Hope Food Shelf. United Way Executive Director Lori Wagner says this is the organization’s first time on the list for Giving Hearts Day and they’re pleased to be able to accept donations to return to a worthy cause such as the food shelf. She added that they are 92% to their annual campaign goal thanks to the giving community and her committed team, plus “even during a pandemic” she’s happy they can still keep their mission going full force.

The New Hope Food Shelf opened at the Care and Share just days before the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic shuttered the country and have blessed hundreds, maybe even thousands of individuals with the gift of food since. Food shelf coordinator Thomas Gonzales says they had a record number of families who received food over the holiday break and added that they were fortunate enough to have given out 100 turkeys and hams, plus boxes of food for those in need.

“The people that come here are happy, the boxes are heavy and they get a lot of food,” he explained. “During Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years we had people from all over like Bemidji and Warren come here and we had one family that drove from Jamestown who was emotional and said it was worth the trip to come here for the food.”

Care and Share Director Brian Halos says the public has been very supportive of the food shelf and they’ve been fortunate to receive grants and CARES Act money that has helped both the soup kitchen and food shelf. Both Halos and Gonzales shared that they also get donations multiple times a week from Hugo’s and Walmart, plus personal donations of both unopened food and money. They often set out free food, too, outside the door of the food shelf for people in the community to pick up when it’s available.

Throughout the building, there are multiple spaces and rooms full of food packed in boxes from floor to ceiling plus the food shelf utilizes coolers, freezers, and shelves, some of which was given to them from the North Country Food Bank who previously housed the food shelf at their former location on Broadway in Crookston before their move to a different facility in East Grand Forks.

To anyone in need, the food shelf is open Mondays and Wednesdays from 1-5 p.m. at the Care and Share building located at 220 E. 3rd St. Individuals can visit the food shelf twice a month plus emergency food boxes are available. For more information, call 281-2644.