Food shelf helping seniors, kids

FAIRMONT – Heaven’s Table Food Shelf in Fairmont partners with Second Harvest Heartland to help provide nutritional and long-lasting foods to families in need.

The food shelf offers programs for many people, including low-income senior citizens and children living in the community.

Heaven’s Table offers a program for low-income seniors called Nutrition Assistance Program for Seniors. NAPS is a government-supported project for those who are at least 60 years old and meet financial guidelines for assistance.

On the third Thursday of each month, Second Harvest Heartland delivers a 28-pound box of groceries to Heaven’s Table for every NAPS member in Martin County. Each senior participating in the program will receive their box on the Thursday it is received by the food shelf, as well as a 2-pound block of cheese, totaling 30 pounds of groceries per month for every participant. Boxes usually include peanut butter, fruit juices, cereal, shelf-stable milk, canned fruits and vegetables, pasta, pasta sauce and canned meat, but the contents of the box may vary based on what types of groceries are available. Heaven’s Table tries to include food items that are easy for seniors to prepare and non-perishable items that will last throughout the month.

During distribution, seniors are able to complete paperwork in their vehicles to prevent falls and discomfort while a volunteer packs their groceries into the vehicle for them. If seniors participating in the program are homebound, their family members can pick up their boxes at a time that meets their convenience. In the future, Heaven’s Table would like to offer the NAPS program with a delivery option.

Seniors who participate in the program are also welcome to visit the food shelf during open hours, so they aren’t limited to just the NAPS program. NAPS is available to any senior citizen who meets the financial criteria, meaning one family can receive more than one box if both seniors qualify. For those with dietary restrictions, Heaven’s Table allows seniors to come inside and pick out 30 pounds of grocery items that meet their dietary needs.

As well as the NAPS program for seniors, Heaven’s Table offers a backpack program for needy children in Martin County’s public schools, including Martin County West, Truman, Fairmont and Granada-Huntley-East-Chain. The food shelf bags food for children in kindergarten through sixth grade.

Children who come from families that meet the guidelines for free and reduced school lunches also meet the guidelines for the backpack program. Heaven’s Table packs food for about 313 kids in Martin County each week. The bags are distributed by the schools on Fridays before the children go home for the weekend. The bags include kid-friendly meals and snacks that are easy for kids to prepare over the weekend, including two main courses, two breakfast items, two drinks, and four to five snack items. The food shelf tries to include items that are as nutritionally-balanced as possible.

Greta Lintelman of Heaven’s Table mentioned how thankful the food shelf is to be able to offer these programs to those in need.

“We have been blessed with the generosity in the community,” Lintelman said. “We have some businesses in town that have made substantial donations. We also have churches and private parties that have donated to the benefit of this project. We’ve been lucky to have a lot of support … We welcome anyone who is struggling and needs assistance with their food supply.”

In 2016, Heaven’s Table assisted 630 households and 787 individuals in Martin County. In total, the food shelf distributed 215,000 pounds of food in Martin County last year.

Lintelman mentioned that the food shelf tries to keep basic staples on hand so that every family in the county has access to milk, cheese, eggs, meat and fresh produce as often as possible.

“We are lucky enough to have rescue programs with Kwik Trip and Hy-Vee,” she said. “Both of those businesses supply us with a lot of poundage of produce, meat, and other goods that we distribute to our clients.”

Heaven’s Table is open three times a week, on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 5-7 p.m. and on Saturdays from 9-11 a.m.

Heaven’s Table operates on a volunteer basis and has no paid employees. Anyone is welcome to volunteer their time or donate food or funds to the shelf.

Food donations are welcomed a half hour prior to the food shelf’s open hours, and money can reach the food shelf at P.O. Box 745. All donations stay in Martin County to help those within the community.

For more information about the NAPS or children’s backpack programs, contact Heaven’s Table Food Shelf at (507) 238-5424.