The United States Department of Agriculture conducted a study between 2012 and 2014 to find the estimated average of food insecure households. This study found Minnesota below the national average of food insecure households, being at 10.4 % of households. Exciting as it is that Minnesota is below the national average, there is still one household of every ten which is not getting enough food on their table, due to insufficient funds.
Fare For All is one such organization which recognizes the problem of not having enough food. They offer bulk food at a lower rate, with no income guidelines to buyers. This means anyone, regardless of the amount of money a family makes, can purchase a produce pack filled with fresh fruit and vegetables for only $10. Various meat packages are also available for a reduced rate. Fare For All accommodates households by traveling to various sites across Minnesota to make it easier for families to purchase nutritional foods.
As an organization, Fare For All runs mostly on volunteers. The volunteers help unload the truck of food as it arrives and helps ensure families are getting the food they purchased. One such volunteer in St. Joseph is Betty. Betty has been volunteering for the St. Joseph Fare For All since June 2014, and volunteering in various other locations with the Retired and Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP) (Lisa J. Braun, Director) since 2001. She has put in over 54 of her total 602 RSVP hours during Fare For All’s once a month visit to St. Joseph.
Betty had been volunteering for other agencies when she first used Fare For All as a customer. She asked about how to volunteer with Fare For All because she loved the service. Volunteering at Fare For All allows Betty the opportunity to get out of the house and she says she “Really like(s) the exercise – It’s good for me!” With a word of advice, Betty says, “I recommend other people to volunteer there and partake in the nutritional foods.”
One of the best parts about volunteering is “to make other people happy,” Betty says. She pushes carts at Fare For All, and remembers one experience where a mother of five came through because her doctor recommended it! “The mothers are so happy to get nutritional food,” she stated.
In 2015 alone, 10 RSVP volunteers have put in 157 hours to the St. Joseph Fare For All. Fare For All has recently began a much-needed site in St. Cloud, and RSVP is in need of more volunteers who are willing to put in their time and help provide low cost food to households in Central Minnesota. To learn more about becoming an RSVP volunteer, please contact the RSVP office at (320) 255-7295 or visit http://ci.stcloud.mn.us/RSVP.