My Co-op Cares: Melrose Food for Thought

May 31, 2022

In April, a dozen Stearns Electric employees volunteered with Melrose Area Public Schools Food for Thought as part of the Cooperative’s “My Co-op Cares” program.

The Food for Thought program provides weekend food packs for students throughout the district who may not have access to meals away from school. There is no income requirements or specific details about who is eligible to receive the food packs.

Vaughn Glasener, teacher at Melrose Area Public Schools, helped start the Food for Thought program in Melrose in 2019 with assistance from the Sauk Centre School District.

“The Food for Thought team is aware that there are many students who have a need for food on the weekend and this program assists in filling that need,” Glasener explained. “Sometimes we think the problem is far away from us when it is really right in front of us. The Food for Thought program is one program assisting us in meeting this need.”

Co-op employees helped package five-weeks’ worth of food packs to round out the end of the school year for students in the elementary school, middle and high schools, alternative learning center as well as local parochial schools. Each week included 180 packages of food.

“It was a very humbling experience to be able to help out with this event. I was amazed at how many benefit from the Food for Thought program,” said Stearns Electric employee, Darwin McGrane.

The product for the food packs is purchased fully from donations to the Food for Thought program and the food is packaged by volunteers – community groups, school sports teams, youth groups, etc.

Glasener detailed the importance of volunteers, “The volunteering groups are energizing and they give the Food for Thought team encouragement to keep going. In the three years, we’ve had over 25 groups assist with packaging. When there is a need, the community has stepped up!”

The “My Co-op Cares” program allows Cooperative employees time to volunteer during working hours to benefit communities within our service territory. Three times per year, Stearns Electric sends teams of employees out to local organizations and charitable causes to share their time and talents.

Diane Koll, Stearns Electric employee, participated her first “My Co-op Cares” event and had this to say about her experience, “It was heartwarming to help with such an important program. I also enjoyed working with my colleagues outside our normal environment. I knew that I was surrounded by good people who enjoyed doing things for others.”