Steele County Food Shelf
Demand for the services of the Steele County Food Shelf service delivery continues to climb. This year the staff and volunteers are busier than ever with no decline expected in the near future. Many Owatonna citizens continue to experience the impact that food, gas, utility, health and housing prices have on their monthly budgets. Food shelf customers are finding that there is little or no money left after bills to make it possible to fill the cupboards with food.
As recently as 2011, 38% of the children in the Owatonna School District are now eligible for the Federal Free and/or Reduced Food Program. Children represent 53% of the people being served by the Steele County Food Shelf. This has proven to be an important concern because, if the nutritional needs of children are not met, they have been shown to struggle academically in the classroom.
The SCFS has registered over 1,200 households in our community that they are now serving, and food packages dispersed in 2011 weighed nearly 600,000 pounds.
The initial grant from the Foundation was to purchase freezers, file cabinets, answering machine and phones. With subsequent grants the food shelf purchased stainless steel sinks and other commercial equipment to proactively keep current to Minnesota state codes, and painted the entrance with murals to welcome customers.
The focus of SeniorPlace is to enrich the lives and promote the independent lifestyles of those 50 and older in Owatonna and the surronding area. It is a vital, intergenerational provider of meaningful, social, educational, and recreational services that enhance the lives of seniors and their families. SeniorPlace has 1,100 members and around 15,000 people come through its door each year.
SeniorPlace is a subdivision of the Owatonna Park and Recreation Department and occupies a three-story building on the West Hills campus. It began in 1989 with a grant from the Owatonna Foundation, with additional funds contributed by the community through the Foundation over the next 4 years. These funds were used to renovate the building, previously offices for the Park and Recreation Department, and add a large multi-purpose room, lobby, and new offices.
Seniors participate in a multitude of programs from crafts to grandparent caregivers support group, computer classes and theraputic exercise programs. About 6,000 have taken AARP driver’s safety classes, and 200 Semcac meals a day are served, five days a week.
The center is a hub of activities including group trips, dance classes, senior league bowling, billiards, table tennis, balloon volleyball, bingo, pinochle, cribbage, bridge, and many other games. They also offer valuable services such as legal services, insurance counseling, and assistance with income taxes, wills, home computers and checkbooks.
Owatonna Trails System
The 5.1 miles of asphalt trails are used by hundreds of people from all walks of life 365 days a year. The twelve foot wide lighted trails are used by bikers, walkers, runners, and rollerbladers. The Owatonna Foundation has been instrumental in the development of the Owatonna trails system awarding grants for trail construction, bridges and lights. Recently the Owatonna Foundation awarded a grant to develop an additional 1.25 miles of trail from North Street to 26th St NW along the Straight River, giving to the community over 6 miles of completed trail system. The trails system is one of the heaviest used amenities in the Park System.