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"I'm glad it was there": How the food shelf helped one local man during a rough patch

Troy was apprehensive about going to the food shelf at first. He thought, “I don’t want to be labeled.”

But he was out of work, low on cash, and needed food to eat.

Some friends gave him information about where to find the Perham Community Food Shelf, and told him when it was open, so he got up the nerve and gave it a go.

Today, he’s really glad he did.

Preferring to speak to the Focus only as ‘Troy,’ the Perham area man said he “can’t say enough good things about the food shelf.”

“It’s wonderful there,” he said in a telephone interview Monday. “For people who have a need, who don’t have means of transportation, or a job, or any of the above, it helps subsidize everything.”

Troy first used the Perham food shelf – or any food shelf, for that matter – about three weeks ago. He had recently moved back to the area after being away, and was looking for work.

Though he had some initial concerns about the stigma that can sometimes come with receiving food assistance, Troy said he now understands that the food shelf “is something that’s needed, and I’m glad it was there.”

Without it, he explained, “I probably wouldn’t have eaten, at least not as much. I wouldn’t have had the means to eat.”

He commended the food shelf’s director, John Leikness, and all the volunteers there for being friendly and making him feel at ease.

“It’s organized very well, and the people are more than helpful,” he said.

Troy just got a part-time job, he said Monday, which will help him to afford groceries in the future. Still, knowing that the food shelf is there, for himself and others, is a comfort.

The food shelf is a charitable non-profit organization that provides food to people in need in the Perham-Dent School District.

Financed entirely through grants and voluntary contributions, the food shelf relies on the generosity of others to continue its mission.

Donations are received year-round at the food shelf, but they go the farthest in March. March is Minnesota FoodShare Month, a time when donations to food shelves in Minnesota are partially matched by the Minnesota Food Share Organization. The Perham food shelf receives almost half of its total annual donations during this time period.

Director Leikness said that, as of the end of the third week in March, with two weeks left to go, a total 18,321 combined dollars and pounds of food had been donated to the Perham food shelf.

“We have an internal target of reaching 30,000 by the end of the month,” he said, “so at this point in time, it’s apparent that that’s achievable, based on what I know is still out there.”

Leikness said donations have come from a variety of sources, most notably Perham area individuals and churches.

Those wishing to make a donation may drop off food items or cash at the food shelf on Tuesday mornings, at 501 4th Avenue NW in Perham, or mail to: P.O. Box 7, Perham, MN 56573.

For more information, or to make special arrangements, call 346-6181.

There is also a food helpline available every Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., by calling 1-888-711-1151.

Marie Johnson

Marie Johnson joined the Detroit Lakes Tribune as a reporter and magazine editor in November 2017 after several years of writing and editing at the Perham Focus. She lives in Detroit Lakes with her husband, Dan, their 4-year-old son and toddler daughter, and their yellow Lab.

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