Give more than thanks

By Chuck Kajer, Managing Editor

The holiday season is a time of giving and sharing. Many families make a point of giving to foodshelves, coat drives, mitten drives, toy drives and other programs that benefit those who are needy.

All are worthy causes, helping families meet their needs during tough economic times. But none of these needs is more basic than food.

According to a Wilder Foundation report in 2006, food shelf use in Minnesota grew 45 percent over the previous five years. Locally, the Peace Center, New Prague's foodshelf program operated by the Queen of Peace Auxiliary, anticipates an increase of nearly 30 percent in the amount of families using the foodshelf this year, to nearly 1,200.

The face of those relying on food shelves to help feed their families would surprise many people. According to the Wilder Foundation report, the most common living arrangements for those using food shelves is two or more adults with children, Most have employment income, but not enough to support the family. Fifty-six percent of households have at least one child and 44 percent of household members identified in the survey were children.

In about three-fifths of the households relying on food shelf assistance, an adult is cutting the size or number of meals due to lack of food. One-quarter of children are getting reduced sized meals and one-eighth of children in the survey report having skipped meals.

So as we prepare to give thanks next week, let's give more than thanks. New Prague is beginning a major drive to stock the food shelves at the Peace Center, with both local grocery stores making generous donations. But in order for this drive to succeed, everyone needs to do their part.

The tradition of Thanksgiving began because the Native Americans shared their skills, their knowledge and their food to help the pilgrims survive during their first year in the New World. In keeping with the spirit of Thanksgiving, we need to do the same.

Give to the Peace Center, and help make this a Thanksgiving that everyone can celebrate.

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