Throughout the month of July, Superfair customers can help feed hungry local families by purchasing $5, $10, or $20 bundles of food that are then delivered to the Watonwan County Food Shelf.

Superfair is allowing all the foods to be sold at cost, which makes the endeavor more feasible, and Superfair employee Bethany Carlson is personally delivering all the bundles to the Watonwan County Food Shelf. The promotion is Carlson’s brainchild. A graduate of St. James High School who has worked at Superfair for nearly three years, she’s back in St. James for the summer following her freshman year at South Dakota State University.

“I like the St. James area,” she said. “The people here have shown so many times they really care, and it’s nice to offer another opportunity for them to show how much they really care.”

The $20 bundle has items like canned goods, noodles, macaroni-and-cheese, and cereal; the $10 box has things such as flour, cans of soup, and peanut butter; and the $5 bundle offers foods like canned fruits and vegetables and rice.

Deb Schmillen, manager of the Watonwan County Food Shelf, said June was the busiest month in the history of the food shelf! They served 74 families, which included 255 individuals, and distributed 6,308 pounds of food.

“The ‘Summer of Sharing’ event that Bethany Carlson has initiated gives a big boost to the Watonwan County Food Shelf this summer,” Schmillen said. “A lot of food has been purchased due to the overwhelming need in June as shown by our statistics, so this project will help re-stock our shelves.”

Carlson came up with this “Summer of Sharing” concept while contemplating ways to “give back to the community with issues prevalent locally,” she said. With so many area children qualifying for free-and-reduced lunches during the school year, summer can be a hard time for those familes, and Carlson’s hoping this giving can bridge some of that gap.

“Bethany’s plan is so valuable to the food shelf because of the high usage this summer, especially with the children home from school (who) might otherwise receive free or reduced lunches during the school year,” Schmillen said. “No child should have to go hungry when there is such an abundance of food in this country.”

 “The idea is for people in the community to give back to each other,” Carlson said of the “Summer of Sharing.” She decided on which products to offer in the bundles after talking with Schmillen about which items were in need.

“The items I suggested are basic items at the food shelf that are depleted first,” Schmillen said. “Most of them are also common items that each of us probably purchase for ourselves when we make a trip to the grocery store. It is helpful for us to think of what we might buy for ourselves when we want to provide food for others.”

Carlson said the project benefits the entire community. “My main goal is people will see it and want to give back,” she said. “Local people are being helped.”

She professed thanks to Superfair and Mark Kulseth for letting her sell the items at cost, as well as Nonnie Hanson for providing tips on “how to make the display look better and more eye-catching.” “This is kind of a learning experience for me, and I definitely don’t have all the answers, but everyone here (at the store) has been so supportive.”

For the full story, please see the July 10 print edition of the St. James Plaindealer.

Ryan Anderson can be reached at randerson@stjamesnews and followed on Twitter @randerson_ryan