Bank aims to fill trailer for local food shelves during FoodShare Month

Published 3:07 pm Monday, March 13, 2023

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Next week, a trailer will be parked outside Arcadian Bank. It’s the same trailer the bank received last year and rents out to customers.

But this time, it will be used for a food drive, said Abby Stoa, assistant vice president of administration and coordinator of the bank’s community outreach team, otherwise known as Recruit, Educate, Allocate, Care and Help. “We’re inviting … customers and the public and other businesses we’ve invited to join in also,” she said.

REACH is made up of five employees and direct community outreach initiatives.

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“We get feedback from the staff on causes they’re passionate about and also opportunities they’re aware of for us to make an impact in the community,” Stoa said in an email. “We then act on those suggestions, inviting our employees to get involved on various levels.”

The goal of the food drive, called Pack the Trailer, will be to fill the entire trailer with nonperishable food items such as canned soups, canned vegetables, boxed food and canned meat, personal care items such as laundry soap and paper products, including paper towels and toilet paper. Monetary donations will also be accepted.

“Nothing that would have to be refrigerated or anything like that,” Stoa said.

Food will then be donated to the Ecumenical Food Pantry (which is run through First Presbyterian Church), the Albert Lea Salvation Army and the Wells Area Food Shelf.

If the bank can pack the trailer, they will then donate $1,000 each to those organizations.

“Our tagline is Community Owned. Community Focused,” she said. “That’s just always been a priority of our bank, to find ways to make a difference in our communities.”

The idea for the food drive started last fall, something the bank planned to do sometime around Thanksgiving.

But then a staff member mentioned March was Minnesota FoodShare Month, and food shelves are eligible for additional funds.

When someone on the outreach committee noted they had seen something similar in their hometown, the idea to incorporate a trailer made sense.

The trailer is a 6-by-12-foot enclosed cargo trailer, and Stoa is hopeful to fill it up multiple times.

The bank plans to deliver items by the end of March.

“People can bring their donations [to] the lobby, and then as we fill up boxes, we’ll fill up the trailer,” she said.

Anyone interested in participating can also bring items this week. Arcadian Bank is at 1452 W. Main St., and hours are 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Thursday, and 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday. Items can be dropped off at the Freeborn location, 214 Fifth Ave., from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday to Friday.

Donations will also be accepted at the Albert Lea-Freeborn County Chamber of Commerce.

According to Stoa, this will be the first time Arcadian Bank has held a food drive for FoodShare Month.

The Minnesota FoodShare campaign is the largest grassroots food and fund drive in Minnesota. The organization provides financial support for food shelves, largely determined by the amount of food and funds raised in March.

“The more an organization brings in, the larger the size of the check they receive later,” Stoa said. “… We can participate in the MN FoodShare March Campaign and hopefully make a really big impact for our communities.”

Other businesses participating include the Albert Lea-Freeborn County Chamber of Commerce, Freeborn-Mower Electric Cooperative, JWP Industries, St. Croix Hospice and the Albert Lea Children’s Center.

“We always appreciate our community participating in our outreach projects like this,” she said. “Our customers are really important to us, and this is a way for us to show our customers and the community that we’re really devoted to our communities and that’s what being a community bank is all about.”

She also wanted to thank anyone who plans to participate in the drive.