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Summer Fundraiser Exceeds Expectations and Expands Options

By Hannah Jastram Aaberg, Communications Associate

This summer, SNAP-Ed Educator Dianne Davis-Kenning went beyond the typical nutrition educator role and helped raise $12,000 to support food shelves in central Minnesota, an amount four times greater than expected.

When school is out in the summer, families that rely on free and reduced breakfast and lunch programs have more meals to worry about. Unfortunately, food shelf donations traditionally dip during the summer months. Meeker County Area Food Shelves are no exception to this trend.

brick storefront
Meeker County Emergency Food Shelf.

To address this summer slump in donations, the non-profit organization Open Your Heart to the Hungry and Homeless (OYH) and long-time University of Minnesota Extension partner Hunger Solutions Minnesota carry out a summer fundraising challenge in July to give Minnesota food shelves a boost. Dianne and Jayme Revermann, executive director of the Meeker food shelves, accepted the challenge, and gave it their own twist.

“Litchfield hosts a four-day celebration every year in July called the Litchfield Watercade,” said Dianne. “We realized it was the perfect time to raise money.”

To get started, Dianne and Jayme adapted an idea from Crow Wing Energized and SuperFood Drive. They used a theme, “Fishing for Healthy Foods and Funds,” and an activity: For every donation, the donor could write on a decorative fish. Each dollar amount donated from $1 to $1,000 had a different fish. Donors could write a message, and their name or the name of a loved one. Then the fish were hung on the wall at the food shelf.

In addition, Meeker food shelf volunteers collected donations during the “Art in the Park” event of the Litchfield Watercade.

Donors could also donate in response to a direct mailing campaign. In total, the fundraising efforts brought in $12, 305, which was significantly more than expected. “We were hoping to raise $3,000 this first year,” said Jayme. The funds will be used to purchase healthy foods to distribute to clients and for ongoing operational expenses.

“I wanted to let people know about this event because it is an easy way to raise funds for food shelves,” said Dianne. “It gets the community involved during a non-holiday time of year. And it’s a way for Extension staff to go beyond nutritional education to the core of programs to help make changes from the ground up.”

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