MANKATO, Minn. (KEYC) - Food insecurity is a growing problem in our region, but local organizations are coming together to help.
According to Second Harvest Heartland, one in eleven Minnesotan families are affected by hunger. With the COVID-19 pandemic causing economic distress for so many workers, finding the means to put food on the table is a struggle that hundreds of Mankato locals are facing.
The Open Door Health Center of Mankato and Second Harvest Heartland hosted a food distribution event on Saturday morning.
Those in need lined up to receive a food box for their household. Each box contained meat, cooking essentials and a gallon of milk.
“I think the people in Mankato do not realize how many families we have right here in our community who are doing without food, who are doing without shelter and who are doing without healthcare due to COVID-19,” said Mandy Gault, Director of Marketing and Development at Open Door Health Center of Mankato. “So many have lost jobs. So many have lost loved ones. So many have lost insurance,” she continued.
Even though the distribution started at 11:00 am, hundreds of cars were waiting for hours beforehand to secure their place in line.
“We had a line of cars that you couldn’t see the end of. Open Door is at Victory, near Victory and Madison, and cars were backed up to Highway 22,” said Gault.
Shortly before 1:00 pm, over 800 families had been given a food box. The supply shortly ran out.
“I had to personally tell 64 families that we were out of food, single women with four, five‚ six kids in their car, and they would cry,” said Gault.
The organization directed families to other ways they could find food, such as Echo Food Shelf.
“This is the kind of community, Mankato and the surrounding area, is the kind of community that when people need help, they step up and help,” Gault said.
Open Door said they are thankful that the Mankato area came together to support one another.
“I think that Mankato has a mentality that everything’s okay. They believe that if we’re okay, that everybody’s okay, and it just isn’t true. We have a lot of families in our area that have been harder hit than people know,” mentioned Gault.
Open Door urges those who are in need of support to reach out to their center to get resources targeted towards their needs. The organization also encourages people to donate when they can.