Archived Story

Church packs its pews with food

Published 9:44am Friday, March 21, 2014

By Hibbing Daily Tribune

NASHWAUK — A church is taking a different approach at collecting nonperishable food items for the Neighbors Helping Neighbors Food Shelf in Nashwauk.

Nashwauk United Methodist Church will be holding the Pack the Pews food drive from Friday, March 21, through Sunday, March 23.

“We’ve been donating to the food shelf every month, but being it’s Minnesota FoodShare month, so we have to think outside the box to help the needy,” said Ruth Sejnoha, member of Nashwauk United Methodist Church and NHN Food Shelf Board.

She said she got the idea for the church to hold Pack the Pews while reading a newsletter from Minnesota FoodShare, the state’s largest food drive, which is held during March.

The purpose of Pack the Pews is to encourage members of church congregations to bring bags of nonperishable food items to worship services to be donated to local food shelves, according to the Minnesota FoodShare newsletter.

The food drive has already been a hit, despite the fact it doesn’t begin until Friday, Sejnoha said. She said that one pew has already been filled with nonperishable items due to a donation sent in from an individual who attended the church prior to moving out of the state.

“She saw the church newsletter and said she had to help,” Sejnoha said, noting that there’s also a donation collection bin at the church. “I just think it’s great.”

Pack the Pews is a great addition to the Minnesota FoodShare efforts going on at NHN Food Shelf, said Director Joen Blomberg. She said that all board members have gone to their churches for donations and that about 200 letters have been sent out to local organizations and businesses.

Keetac will be holding its annual gate collection.

“Minnesota FoodShare month is statewide fundraising effort that’s financially great for us,” Blomberg said. “I’m very thankful for all of the people who support us.… People have been so generous, and that’s what has kept us going.”

She said that the food shelf has not set a goal for the campaign, but will be pleased with what is received.

“It’s going good,” Blomberg added. “We’ve had a really good response.”

Minnesota FoodShare designed the March campaign to encourage community members to donate to food shelves by adding an incentive that the amount of food and money they donate will be matched by Minnesota FoodShare, said Karen Peterson, publicity director for NHN Food Shelf.

“It’s not actually matching,” she said. “We get an allocation based on the percentage of food raised, money raised and our number of clients. But it’s still very helpful.”

Peterson noted that the food shelf spent only $25,000 of its $34,000 operating budget last year.

“We were under, which is awesome,” she said. “Hopefully we can continue that trend, as well as provide additional services.”

Sejnoha agreed.

“Helping those in need is very important,” she said. “So stop by the church this weekend, and bring a few bags of food.”