For over 20 years, ICA Food Shelf has given away ingredients and other food items to prepare turkey dinners to families in need throughout the community and is expecting a record giveaway this year.
As some families throughout the nation and this community struggle with unemployment and other repercussions due to COVID-19, the food shelf’s organizers are projecting a sharp increase in the number of people they serve. “If the legislature doesn’t approve additional funds for people … and if unemployment continues to grow, we are projecting anywhere from a 30 to 50 percent increase in the number of people we’ll be serving in the next couple of months,” says Monika Salden, ICA’s manager of marketing and communications.
In a typical year, the food shelf gives out between 750–800 turkeys along with supplies for a turkey dinner, including fresh produce (carrots, onions and potatoes), as well as “fixings bags,” which have canned goods, stuffing mix, bread and other sides. Although the food will be relatively the same this year, Salden says that the number of meals they give away is likely to reach 1,200.
The event is typically held the Thursday before Thanksgiving at Zion Lutheran Church in Hopkins and Christ Community Church in Excelsior. (Location adjustments might be made this year.) “It is a day of joy and celebration and abundance. People love to come and see our volunteers, see each other, and take home the fixings for a special meal. This day begins the holiday season for many and makes everyone so happy,” Salden says.
ICA has remained open throughout the pandemic. However, its practices shifted to ensure the safety of clients and volunteers. Typically, clients come to the food shelf and choose their food, similarly to a small grocery store. Now, clients call ahead and drive-up to pick up their groceries.
“Many of our volunteers are retired, so they’re in that older category that are more susceptible or more at risk. Many of our clients are in that category as well … people who are in poverty are at higher risk, whether it’s because they have less access to health support or because they’re still working,” Salden says.
ICA plans to rearrange the turkey giveaway to fit COVID best practices. (Visit icafoodshelf.org for more information.) For those who want to help, ICA is taking financial donations in cash, so that it can purchase the turkeys for this year’s giveaway. Additional needs can be found on the website. If you are struggling with food insecurity, call ICA at 952.938.0729.