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A new kind of food fight will benefit food shelves

When Minnesota FoodShare announced that the theme of its March food drive campaign was A Different Kind of Food Fight, employees of 360 Communities, which operates both the Farmington Food Shelf and the Rosemount Family Resource Center, knew it could have some fun.

A brainstorming session led to the idea of a Pie in the Face Challenge, where local schools, businesses, government and other organizations are invited to compile a group of nominees who are willing to take a pie in the face in the name of fighting hunger in Dakota County.

The inspiration for the challenge was Farmington’s Kiss the Pig contest, where patrons of local businesses contribute change to canisters sporting photos of prominent community members. The candidate who brings in the most money has to kiss a pig live on stage during the summer Dew Days celebration, and all funds raised go to the city’s senior center.

For the Pie in the Face Challenge, participants are asked to organize a food drive where the candidate whose bin collects the most donations will take a whipped cream pie in the face. 360 Communities’ goal is to raise $100,000 cash and 50,000 pounds of food with the challenge.

Anika Rychner, director of self-sufficiency for the nonprofit, said the Pie in the Face Challenge started as a way to get local schoolchildren involved and excited about fighting hunger. But when local business found out about the challenge, they wanted in on it too. Farmington’s City Hall and the Dakota County Sheriff’s Department were among the first to take on the challenge and other registrations are beginning to trickle in.

Minnesota FoodShare’s March campaign comes during a time when holiday giving has waned just as food shelves are gearing up for the summer, when there are more mouths to feed.

“The idea behind the whole thing is in March, you can stretch your dollar even further because the Minnesota Council of Churches contributes a portion back to us,” Rychner said. “People typically think to give during the holidays. Summer is one of our highest times of need.”

Rychner said one in five Minnesotans is food insecure, meaning they don’t know where their next meal is coming from. She said hunger is an issue that often flies under the radar but is a real problem in this community. She hopes some friendly competition will bring people together and make fighting hunger fun.

“People’s incomes just don’t stretch far enough,” Rychner said. “Every time we ask the community for help, they always rally.”

Rychner said 360 Communities has a great need for volunteers right now, especially at the Burnsville Food Shelf and the Rosemount Family Resource Center. Anyone interested in volunteering can visit https://www.360communities.org/volunteer/.

To register your organization for the Pie in the Face Challenge, visit http://bit.ly/1PO2w7h.

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