Hunger Games? Steele County Food Shelf Usage Up 65% From August 2021
Community Pathways of Steele County is a resource for clothing, food, and other services for those in need within the Owatonna community and Steele County. Dom Korbel, Executive Director, shared the service numbers for those utilizing the food shelf services that are provided by Community Pathways, and it has shown over the last 6 weeks an increase of 65% of families utilizing those services compared to the number of families using the food shelf services in August of 2021.
The service numbers from Dom Korbel were sent in an email, and reflect the growing need for 'gap help', according to Korbel "the average household only visited us 5 of the 13 possible weeks in the first quarter of 2022," for food and other resources in Steele County.
Korbel's numbers show that "in August of 2021, we were serving 250 families a week, In March of 2022, that number had increased to 350. Over the last 6 weeks, that number has increased to 390!! That is a 65% increase in families served per week since August of 2021."
Korbel went on to specify that "In the first quarter of 2022 we served 867 different families. Families are eligible to shop for food once a week, but the average household only visited us 5 of the 13 possible weeks in the quarter. Just 239 of those 867 (28%) visited more than twice a month. The typical family needs our support to fill in the gaps created by unexpected costs or events in their lives that have created a lack of food stability for them. Just 6% of those we serve need our support weekly."
Just 6% of those we serve need our support weekly.
For the year last year, Korbel shared that they assisted 1300 families in the county at least once, and this year the numbers are pacing towards a nearly 50% increase in services utilized which were estimated to be over 1800 families served. Due to the expected increase in services used Community Pathways is expected to "exceed" its food "budget by over $100,000."
Not only are the food shelf services seeing an increase in usage, but Korbel noted that the clothing side of Community Pathways, Unique Finds, is also seeing a similar increase.
"On the clothing side while the families served is much lower the same pace of increases are happening. The number of average weekly households served via Unique Finds in August of 2021 was 170. The average for the last 6 weeks is 256. Nearly a 50% increase. The need for clothing donations is on the rise as well. Men’s clothing, in particular, gets donated at a far lower rate so we always need more for all ages."
With the expected shortfall for the food shelf side of things, Korbel is asking community members for assistance, in any form food or monetarily, as on top of the increase in usage, Community Pathways is in the process of constructing a new, larger facility, tey are currently $150,000 away from raising $2,600,000, so that will be able to handle the increase in services rendered, as well as have the ability to have more space on-site for Unique Finds.
Korbel stated; "We will of course never turn down a food donation, but monetary contributions provide us great buying power through our food bank in Rochester (Channel One). What generally costs a consumer at the store $1, we can purchase for approximately .60 cents through our food bank. Monetary donations provide us flexibility in our purchasing and really do provide us even greater value than most of our supporters realize."
Information on how to donate monetarily online can be found here.