Single parents explain why Salvation Army food shelves are critical

Mar 2, 2021

The Salvation Army has launched our largest-ever food drive in the Twin Cities, with the goal of gathering 2 million pounds of food during the month of March. 

Your support of this historic food drive helps people like Harold and Lynne – two single parents with children who live with autism. 

Harold and Lynne are just a few of the thousands of people who receive food at The Salvation Army’s seven food shelves in the Twin Cities. An infusion of 2 million pounds of food – equal to about 50 semi-loads – would provide 1.2 million meals, ensuring that families can keep food on the table during the pandemic.    


Harold, 70, is a widower raising his two teenage grandchildren. He and his wife adopted the kids when they were toddlers. After Harold’s wife died of cancer six years ago, he’s been caring for the children all by himself. 

“I’ve been carrying a heavy load,” said Harold, a lifelong St. Paul resident who worked in the local steel industry for 30 years. He has been heavily involved in the community his whole life, including many years working and volunteering at local youth centers. As a boy, he used to play baseball with hometown legend Dave Winfield

These days, Harold has trouble making ends meet because he’s stuck in the margins. He doesn’t qualify for food stamps because his retirement income is too high, yet his retirement income is still too low for him to live without needing assistance. 

Thankfully, Harold can rely on his local Salvation Army for help. Every week, he stops by for a free box of food that contains meat, fresh produce, canned goods, and other nutritious foods. 

“They do a good job here,” Harold said. “It’s a big help for the kids and me.”

Harold has long admired the work of The Salvation Army and our supporters. As a child, he remembers seeing uniformed Salvation Army officers helping people in the community. 

“I remember being a kid in the 50s and 60s, seeing The Salvation Army out there helping people on the streets of St. Paul,” Harold recalled. “They were doing positive things for the human race.”


Lynne* is a single mother raising two teenage boys who live with autism. Her youngest son is confined to a wheelchair and requires round-the-clock care, which consumes nearly all of her time.  

“I don’t get a lot of sleep,” admitted Lynne, who recently had to stay awake for 29 hours straight while caring for her youngest son. (She is pictured with her other son.) 

To make matters even more difficult, her youngest son is on a highly restrictive vegetarian diet. Many of the foods he must eat are expensive, and some cannot be found in typical grocery stores. 

Fortunately, Lynne lives a block away from her local Salvation Army, where case managers hand-select foods that match her son’s diet – including all-natural breads, organic juices, and more.  

“I make a list of foods that (Lynne) needs and keep an eye out for them when food donations come in,” said Anna, a Salvation Army caseworker. “During winter, we often deliver food to Lynne because it can be hard for her to push her son’s wheelchair through the snow.”

Despite her challenging circumstances, Lynne has a positive attitude and always sees the good. She always is thankful for the help she receives from The Salvation Army, our donors, and our volunteers. 

“I’m grateful for The Salvation Army – they’re my second family,” Lynne 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: Drop off nonperishable foods at any SPIRE Credit Union, Morrie’s Auto Dealer, Cub grocery store, or Salvation Army Family Store location in the Twin Cities March 1-27.

Host a food drive: Collect nonperishable foods at your organization now through March 27. We will send you a Food Drive Starter Kit that includes promotional materials for you to print off or post on your website and social media. When you’ve finished your collection, bring your food to Salvation Army headquarters in Roseville on Saturday, March 27 for a special contactless, drive-thru weigh-in event. Sign up today at

Give a cash donation: Help us feed hungry families by giving online at Every $150 you give equals about 120 pounds of food.

Volunteer: Got extra time? Help us unload delivery vehicles, weigh food, stock shelves, and more. Sign up to volunteer now


Watch the video below for an inside look at what a typical day is like distributing food at the West 7th Salvation Army in St. Paul, one of seven food shelves operated by the Twin Cities Salvation Army. 

Media coverage

It takes an Army of community support to raise 2 million pounds of food – including help from the Twin Cities media. Below is a small sampling of the many local newspapers and TV stations that are helping The Salvation Army get the word out about the food drive.  

* Name changed to protect privacy. 

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