Rochester community discusses growing food insecurity issue in southeast Minnesota

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(ABC 6 News) – The Rochester community learned more about the growing concern of food insecurity in our area at the Zumbro Lutheran Church on Wednesday night.

Channel One Regional Food Bank says the church is an important partner. Zumbro Lutheran Church has the “Open Table” food truck, also known as the burrito truck, in town that goes to mobile homes and apartment buildings on the south side of Rochester.

“If not for that partnership, we would not be reaching those neighborhoods. So they distribute burritos they make and other food and also Minnesota Central Kitchen meals that restaurants produce for Channel One,” Virginia Merritt, Executive Director of Channel One Regional Food Bank, said.

The pandemic has been hard on families. Merritt said more people and families are utilizing Channel One after the pandemic than during it. Plus with inflation and grocery prices up, people need resources like Channel One now more than ever.

“We’re up 40 percent in the number of shoppers comparing July and August of last year (2021) to 2022 and until someone solves inflation and the grocery prices come down, I just don’t see that changing,” Merritt said.

The 18th Annual Empty Bowls To-Go wrapped up on Wednesday night, which is a crucial part of Channel One’s work to increase food security. Merritt said the goal was to raise $85,000 and they were feeling good about meeting that goal.

Channel One is looking for more volunteers. To volunteer, you can head to their website.