When you walk into the Baltic Food Bank, you will notice few things. You will spot some cans of green beans or corn; you will catch a glimpse of some boxes of Macaroni and Cheese; you will also see the shelves are not very full. For many families, the Food Bank's offerings would not even fill up a grocery cart.
"We just kind of fill up our carts and get what we want. That's not true for these families. They have to watch their budgets pretty close," Pastor Linda Jorgensen said.
That is why the Baltic Food Bank plays such a vital role in the community. Open just a couple of times a month, Jorgensen said the facility does its best to never turn anyone away.
"If you're hungry, we're going to see that you get some food," Jorgensen said. "It just sometimes happens there just isn't any food."
Traditionally, smaller communities like Baltic seem cushioned from the recession's impact. Jorgensen said many people do not worry about the need for food in smaller communities because everyone typically helps out a neighbor in need. Jorgensen said in the last year, many people have been laid off and still have not found jobs.
"If you don't have money, we're outside of the city. There aren't many job opportunities right in Baltic, so people need to travel and traveling costs money," Jorgensen said.
The Baltic Food Bank is inside the old school, so perhaps it is fitting that the students in the new school are teaching us how to fill the shelves.
"I heard that there was low food in the food drive and I just figured I should help and make it bigger and have more food," freshman Karson Koopman said.
Koopman is just one student helping out with Baltic School wide food drive. Every fall, each class pitches in to bring in non-perishable items to donate to the food bank.
"They're pretty low, so we have to help," Koopman said.
This food drive is giving students an education you will not find in a textbook. For sophomore Kris Daugaard, it is the best kind of homework.
"It makes me stop and think before I ask for something from my parents or buy something, because I know there are people that don't get it," Daugaard said.
Students collect food until September 30. To make it fun, classes are competing with each other, and the winners get a pizza party. However, that is not the greatest prize these kids are taking with them.
"There was this one lady. She was so appreciative and loved that we were doing this. She just loved getting all this food she couldn't get at the stores," Daugaard said.
"You have people that are in need. It's just a situation where we don't have fancy houses; they don't have the fancy cars. And if you've lost your job, it's very tough. If you have children, it multiplies it," Jorgensen said.
Soon all of the food collected will line the shelves and help families struggling to put meals on the table. It is a reminder that even if something may not look like much, small acts of kindness make the biggest difference.
"Without the kids and the families, we couldn't exist. There's no doubt about it," Jorgensen said.