Food Drive Profile: Donations help retired home builder (VIDEO)

Feb 28, 2023

Your donations to The Salvation Army’s March Food Drive allow our food pantries and hot meal programs to serve people like George. Donate now.  

George is a retired home builder from St. Paul. He grew up near his local Salvation Army and used to go there as a child, 70 years ago.

“We had 12 kids in our family,” George recalled. “We used to come to The Salvation Army back in 1961 or 1962 because they had a roller skating rink inside. And they’d give away bread that we’d bring home.”

Today George lives off a fixed income of social security benefits and modest retirement savings. Money has been fairly tight ever since he retired four years ago. 

Lately, however, “tight” is an understatement. As inflation climbs ever higher, George is one of countless people impacted by food, gas and housing prices that have grown out of control.  

“Living on a fixed income is not easy,” admitted George, who is recently engaged. “If it weren’t for my fiancé and I living together, we wouldn’t be able to make it.”

Thankfully, George can rely on The Salvation Army for help – just as his family did seven decades ago. Most Fridays, he stops by the West 7th Salvation Army in St. Paul and picks up a box of food that includes bread, fresh produce, meat, and more. 

“It’s a blessing,” George said. “The meat helps a lot. Sometimes we get chicken wings, or turkey, or ham. I use it to make great big pots of soup and I share it with everyone. Nothing goes to waste.”

George is one of thousands of people who receive food at the West 7th Salvation Army, one of 22 food shelves operated by The Salvation Army in Minnesota. In 2022 alone, this location gave away more than 1 million pounds of food. 

“That’s triple the amount since COVID-19,” said Major Steve Kounthapanya (pictured), leader of the West 7th Salvation Army. “We are serving more now than any other time.”

Kounthapanya’s statement is consistent with what food shelves are experiencing throughout Minnesota. In 2022, Minnesotans made a record-setting 5.5 million visits to food shelves. That’s nearly 2 million more visits than in 2021 and 1.7 million more than 2020. 

The Salvation Army’s March Food Drive aims to raise 2 million pounds of food and cash equivalent to replenish our food supplies. This drive is more important than ever, as everyday families struggle to afford food prices that have surged more than 11 percent – the highest rate since 1979. In addition, many Minnesotans are in danger of falling off a “hunger cliff” in March, when food-stamp benefits will be slashed in 32 states across the country. 

“Thank you to the people who are donating to The Salvation Army and helping people like me,” George said. 

Get Involved

Please help The Salvation Army raise 2 million pounds of food by donating nonperishables, hosting a food drive, giving a cash donation, or volunteering.

Donate food: In the Twin Cities, drop off nonperishable foods March 1-31 at Cub grocery stores, Morrie’s auto dealers, Slumberland Furniture, Schuler ShoesSPIRE Credit Union, or Salvation Army Store locations. View a map of drop-off locations.  

In greater Minnesota, drop off nonperishable foods at your local Salvation Army Worship & Service Center anytime in March. 

(High-demand foods include pasta, rice, and peanut butter, plus canned items such as fruit, veggies, and soup.)

Donate online and your gift will be matched: Help us feed hungry families by donating online. Your gift will be matched, up to $10,000. This matching opportunity means a gift of just $25 become $50 – enough to buy up to 280 pounds of food for Salvation Army food pantries. 

Host a food drive: Collect nonperishable foods from friends, neighbors, coworkers, church members, and others. We will send you a Food Drive Starter Kit that includes tips and promotional materials for your website or social media. When you’ve finished your collection, bring your food to The Salvation Army’s headquarters in Roseville, 2445 Prior Ave. N., on Saturday, April 1 for a special drive-thru weigh-in event. (Read about successful grassroots food drives from previous years.) 

Buy a Star Tribune newspaper on Sunday, March 12: Inside the newspaper you’ll find a brown paper bag. Fill the bag with nonperishable foods and bring it to a participating drop-off location, or donate money by scanning the QR code on the bag. 

Volunteer: Do you have time to spare? Support our food drive by helping us unload delivery vehicles, weigh food, stock shelves, and more. Sign up to volunteer now



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