Food pantry donations needed

Representatives from the Hillsboro Kiwanis Food Pantry handed out more food and supplies from Jan. 1 through Oct. 31 this year than they did over a 12-month span in 2021.

Rich Gehrke, a longtime Farmers Union Insurance agent and committee member of the Kiwanis food shelf for 32 years, said the food pantry has seen a noticeable uptick in food requests from families in the first 10 months of 2022 – with Thanksgiving and Christmas still to come.

“Our usage is way up in comparison to last year,” Gehrke said Wednesday. “We’ve handed out more pounds of food and house items to children, adults and seniors than we did a year ago.”

Despite the increased number of requests, the food pantry has been able to keep items stocked on shelves thanks to ongoing donations from community members in Hillsboro and contributions from the Great Plains Food Bank in Fargo, Gehrke said.

Organizers of the food pantry currently are seeking a variety of items for the food shelf, including paper products, juices, cereals, crackers and vegetables. A more comprehensive list of foods and supplies needed by the food pantry can be found in advertisement on Page 16.

Thanksgiving will be coming up in less than three weeks and Gehrke said the food shelf has ordered turkeys and pre-Thanksgiving supplies for roughly 25 families ahead of the federal holiday.

Gehrke said he believes the order will be enough to meet the needs of local families for Thanksgiving.

The Kiwanis Food Pantry hands out supplies and food items on the first and third Mondays of every month from 4 to 6 p.m. at the Hillsboro City Armory along Highway 81.

Families don’t need an official referral to pick up supplies, although it’s common for employees at Agassiz Valley Human Service Zone, Traill and Steele counties’ social services department, to connect families with the food pantry, Gehrke said.

Gehrke recommended community members who want to donate items to the food pantry to bring supplies to his Farmers Union Insurance office at 16 W. Caledonia Ave.

The insurance office is staffed from 8 a.m. through 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Gehrke said it’s not uncommon for Hillsboro’s food shelf to receive more requests in the weeks leading up to Thanksgiving and Christmas, but the food pantry also takes in more donations during that span.

“We’re seeing more people across the board asking for food,” Gehrke said.

“We’re serving some of the same people we do every year, but we’re also seeing some new people this year who we’ve never seen before, too.”