Houston Community Food Shelf reorganizes

Houston Community Food Shelf is the new name for Houston Community Food Basket as it reorganizes to be tax-exempt under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code.

A 501(c)((3) organization must be organized and operated exclusively for exempt purposes set forth in section 501(c)(3), and none of its earnings may go to any private shareholder or individual.

Organizations described as such are commonly referred to as charitable organization. Organizations described in section 501(c)(3), other than testing for public safety organizations, are eligible to receive tax-deductible contributions in accordance with Code section 170.

“We’ve had tremendous amount of growth over the past 15 years since it was spearheaded by Julie Lundberg and Jean Happel,” said President Teresa Erickson. “Once serving several families, we are now serving 25 to 30 families throughout the year and 22 to 25 families weekly. The average number of people served is 56 per week. We have grown due to the need and generosity of organizations, businesses, churches and private individuals. We believed we should seek this charitable status, so we may operate in all the legal requirements of an organization of the size and scope we have become and have the opportunity to purchase food at a discount from food banks like Channel One in Rochester, Minn.”

The 501(c)(3) status also provides Houston Community Food Shelf with an opportunity to publicly solicit funds to support its work. Erickson says she anticipates the approval from the IRS may take several months.

“Last year, we were having challenges serving all the needs of our patrons who would benefit from our services,” Erickson said. “But without the tax exempt status of a charitable organization, we could not legally seek contributions, which would produce important resources to purchase food. When our status is approved, we will be able to actively solicit pledges and cash so we can serve all our needs and better plan for the future. Our contributors will also be able to receive tax deductions for their gifts to the Houston Community Food Shelf.”

When it began, the Houston Community Food Basket operated under the administrative umbrella of area churches, including Cross of Christ Lutheran Church, St. Mary’s Catholic Church, Money Creek United Methodist Church, Looney Valley Lutheran Church, South Ridge United Methodist Church, Houston Baptist Church, Bethany Evangelical Free Church and the former Presbyterian United Church.

In 2011 approximately $12,800 was contributed in money and food items.

Children from Houston School District recently assisted in harvesting the Houston Community Garden, bringing 220 lbs. of squash, 20 lbs. of sweet potatoes and five lbs. of peppers to the Houston Community Food Shelf, 118 S. Lincoln St.

The Community Garden also donated another 520 lbs. of food throughout this summer for a total of 765 lbs. of produce.

Members of the Board of Incorporators for the organization are: Teresa Erickson, president; Kay Nelson and Carol Jorgenson, secretaries; Candi Woxland, treasurer, Rae Evenson, Richard Carr, Jr. and Ellen Hongerholt.

A new logo has been designed to accompany the organization’s new name. The food shelf will soon have a website with information on how to give, as well as information on how to access assistance from the food shelf.

Information is currently posted on Facebook at Houston Community Food Shelf. The organization’s hours are 4 to 5 p.m. every Thursday at 118 S. Lincoln St., Houston.

If you are interested in learning about how to become involved with the food shelf to assist in governance or food distribution, contact Teresa Erickson at 507-896-3388 or Candi Woxland at 507-896-4558.