The Minnesota Super Bowl Host Committee's 52 Weeks of Giving campaign brought them to Bemidji on Tuesday.

The Bemidji Community Food Shelf (BCFS) was awarded a $30,000 grant through the MNSBHC Legacy Fund.

"When the end of the month comes or a difficult time, they just don't have enough, they can come and we can get them through," said Jim Fretheim, president of the board of directors for BCFS.

According to Fretheim, Beltrami County is one of the poorest counties in the state of Minnesota. The food shelf serves more than 200 families per week. An average person or family comes in about four to five times a year.
The nearly 40-year-old food shelf plans to buy a used van with the grant money.

"We have to purchase our food mostly which comes from a food bank in Crookston, which is about 100 miles west of here on Highway 2," Fretheim said. "So we've had volunteers with their trucks hauling our trailer over there loading it up and coming back."

They'll now be able to transfer food in their trailer, with the help of the van. In addition to picking up food, the van will be used to transport gardening materials and take people to meetings and conferences.

After the grant was awarded, kids with the Boys and Girls Club Bemidji helped plant vegetable seeds and watered seedlings at the BCFS farm. The farm is 2.6 acres and allows the food shelf to serve fresh produce to people in need.

"Northern Beltrami County is considered a food desert with a significant number of residents earning less than 200 percent of the poverty level," said Mary Mitchell, executive director for the Bemidji Community Food Shelf. "With the loss of the Sentence to Serve Program, this new vehicle will allow us to continue picking up food from our food bank to continue to provide the people in our county with access to nutritious food."

According to Fretheim, they will purchase the van next week.