One epidemic that has taken our nation by storm is hunger. According to a Feeding America Study, 1 in 7 Americans relies on a food pantry for food assistance every month. A staggering 1 in 4 military families need help providing their loved ones with enough food to eat. More and more children under the age of 18 rely on school meals as their main source of daily nutrition. This situation is not limited to urban areas. These same statistics are true in suburban and rural communities. People affected by hunger are potentially your neighbors, friends, and are often employed. The terrible reality is that they must make weekly choices between food and other necessities like rent, utilities, and health care. Many communities are not accepting this bleak data as their final outcome. Many are fighting back in support the work of local food banks and food shelves. This is especially true with the Echo Food Shelf in the Mankato, MN area.
Fighting Back with Food Shelves
Echo Food Shelf has been providing healthy food products for those in need since its inception as a basement food pantry serving 10 families a month in 1981. The non-profit center is open five days a week and accepts food donations from the greater community. It distributes food to individuals and families in need at no charge to them. Echo promotes healthy nutrition to their customers with their offerings of fresh produce, dairy, meat, eggs, frozen foods, and canned and dry goods.
Echo Food Shelf primarily serves Blue Earth County in Minnesota, including the greater Mankato metropolitan area. With a customer base of 350 families and up to 1000 individual people per week, they are able to sustain their efforts by employing 3.75 people, 200 regular volunteers, and various people who need to fulfill their service learning or community service hours.
Joining the Fight Against Hunger
In November of 2013, Echo realized that it needed more sophisticated recycling equipment to manage its overflow of cardboard boxes. The food shelf accumulated large quantities of boxes that could not be reused for food orders due to shape, size, condition, or because they were previously used to haul meat and eggs. The boxes took up floor space, required significant employee time to manage, and wasted valuable potential revenue as garbage. Echo Food Shelf needed a practical, affordable, and immediate recycling solution for these commodities.
Because capital expenses prevented the purchase of this necessary equipment, Echo found itself in a bit of a quandary. That is where Harmony Enterprises stepped in. Having heard of their plight, Harmony joined the fight against hunger and donated a used M60MD vertical baler to the food shelf. The M60MD is a high-capacity vertical baler that fits under a standard ceiling. It has several safety features that allow its uniform 60” bales to be compacted, tied, and ejected from the front of the baler with ease. It was the perfect solution for the needs of the food shelf.
At the heart of Harmony’s mission, vision, and core values is providing recycling and waste solutions that make our world a better place for generations to come. That belief transcends the mere selling of products and services to global businesses. It also means that we value our responsibility to help others and have a duty to share our successes with those who live, work, and play in our greater community. Since the time the M60MD was donated, the baler has allowed the food shelf to save time, floor space, labor costs, all while providing additional recycling revenue!
Since the time the M60MD was donated, the baler has allowed the food shelf to save time, floor space, labor costs, all while providing additional recycling revenue!
Assistant Manager, Sara Diel states, “As our program has grown, we find that space is more and more limited and the baler reduces the amount of space needed to hold cardboard until pick up day. It also reduces our waste management costs as we are actually paid by the pound for our cardboard refuse instead of just paying to have it hauled away.”
More recently, the used baler required hydraulic maintenance that is typical for older machines that absorb a higher daily duty cycle. Rather than leave Echo Food Shelf in the same predicament they found themselves in 2013, Harmony Enterprises donated and shipped the essential cylinder and parts to keep the baler running. Baler and Compactor Service Company also generously donated their time and expertise to install the necessary parts!
Assistant Manager Sara further explains, “The board and staff at ECHO Food Shelf are extremely conscientious about making sure that the money that is donated to us is used to further our mission of providing emergency food assistance to families and individuals in our community. Harmony’s donations have helped us to focus our spending on the food that we provide. Having the baler saves us money on waste management, helps lessen our environmental impact, and conserves precious space.”
Harmony Enterprises is proud to be able to help Echo Food Shelf in their mission to serve those in need. If you would like to read more about our company’s mission, or our many quality recycling and waste products, please contact us here or call us at (507) 886-6666 today.