Deadline to apply for Pandemic Electronic Benefits Transfer extended

July 8, 2020

Eligible families have until July 31 to request additional food benefits

Minnesota has also extended P-EBT to provide an additional food benefit through the summer. With Summer P-EBT, each eligible child will receive an additional $100 food benefit. Those who have applied will receive the benefit automatically; those who have not can apply for P-EBT online. The funds will be issued in August.

DHS and the state Department of Education are urging families with school children who received the federal free and reduced-price meal program to apply for P-EBT online at Qualifying families with children receiving free or reduced-price meals, who were already on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program or Minnesota Family Investment Program received these benefits automatically on their existing EBT cards in late May. Families who were receiving free or reduced meals for the 2019-2020 school year but who were not also receiving SNAP or MFIP benefits need to sign up for a benefits card, known as a P-EBT card, to receive P-EBT and Summer P-EBT funds.

Also new for July, children enrolled in a school district pre-K program who received federal free and reduced-price meals will be eligible to receive P-EBT benefits by applying online.

Information also can be found online in P-EBT frequently asked questions and in a series of fliers in Somali, Russian, Spanish and Hmong posted online. The application is available in these languages as well.

Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer – Transferencia Electrónica de Beneficios Pandémicos

June 15, 2020

Temporary food benefits for families who would have received free or reduced-price meals if schools were open.

Find out if you are eligible and how to apply. Applications must be completed by June 30th 2020.

Un beneficio temporal de alimentos disponible para las familias de Minnesota con niños que hubieran recibido comidas gratis o a precio reducido si las escuelas estuvieran abiertas.

Averigüe si es elegible y cómo aplicar. Las aplicaciones deberán ser completadas a mas tardar el 30 de junio del 2020.

Channel One Regional Food Shelf Promises Milk, Dairy, Produce and Protein for All

June 8, 2020

The need for consistent programs that offer dignified access to nutritious food continues to grow, and Channel One Regional Food Bank is prepared to provide a promise to its neighbors in need.

Thanks to Channel One’s partnerships with the Midwest Dairy Association and the Farmers to Families Program every single household that visits the Channel One Food Shelf will receive milk, dairy, produce and protein such as meat and eggs along with their shelf-stable groceries and pantry items provided in our emergency food boxes.

Channel One’s Food Shelf is open Monday – Thursday from 8:00 PM – 6:00 PM and Friday from 8:00 AM to Noon. Anyone who needs groceries is welcome to come during business hours to receive this additional products and box of shelf-stable items. For the continued safety of clients, staff and volunteers, a drive-up registration and pick up model is in place so that households can get their groceries with limited to no contact with others.

The promise of milk produce, and protein will continue throughout the summer months when hunger is typically most prevalent. This is especially true for so many people who have lost their jobs this spring because of the COVID-19 crisis.

Food box distribution on May 15th

May 11, 2020

Channel One is teaming up with the City of Rochester, Family Service Rochester, and Cradle 2 Career to reach families in need.

On Friday, May 15th, local families can pick up one 30lb, non-perishable grocery box along with frozen meat, eggs and fresh produce. The boxes include enough food to feed a family of four for approximately a week.

The food boxes can be picked up on May 15th from 12:30pm until 1:30—or while boxes are available—at the following locations:

In order to ensure the safety of volunteers and residents, those picking up food will need to follow social distancing protocols at the drive-thru events.

  • Vehicles will pull up to the designated drive through location
  • Drivers MUST remain in their vehicle
  • Drivers will open their trunk remotely and the box will be placed in the trunk. If placing the box in the trunk is not an option, the box will be placed in the back seat of the vehicle

Food Boxes are available to any local family in need, with a limit of one box per family.

Practical Guide and Recipes Ideas for Emergency Food Box

April 13, 2020

Our friends from the University Minnesota Extension Center for Family Development have created a practical guide with recipes and tips on how to best use the ingredients packed in the food boxes. Check it out!

University of Minnesota – Emergency Food Box Guide


Channel One Continues to be COVID-19 Free

April 9, 2020 @ 11:55 a.m.

With the number of cases of COVID-19 continuing to grow in Olmsted County, Channel One Regional Food Bank is taking many extra precautions to ensure the safety of its staff and their volunteers. This includes ensuring that if staff are feeling ill, they stay at home until their doctors determine it is safe for them to return to work. As of Thursday, April 9, 2020 five Channel One employees were tested for COVID-19 and all five tests came back negative. Channel One is pleased to report that there has been no exposure at the food bank, and there are no other staff that require testing at this time.

Channel One has received guidance from the Olmsted County Public Health Department and the Minnesota Department of Health for what to do if an employee or volunteer were to test positive for COVID-19 and are taking extra precautions to keep different groups of staff and volunteers isolated from one another. Channel One has also worked with Olmsted County to attain backup staff so that in the unlikely event that the entire Operations staff were quarantined, Channel One would still be able to safely distribute food in our 14 county region.

“All of our staff and the volunteers that come through each day are truly essential” says Virginia Merritt, Executive Director, “Their safety is the most important thing, and we want them to feel safe when they are here and that they can trust we are keeping them as protected as possible”

The Channel One Volunteers and Staff have been packing approximately 2,000 emergency boxes each day for those facing hunger in our community. Channel One is taking every precaution and following all recommendations and best practices from Feeding America and the Center for Disease Control to ensure this distribution continues and are pleased to have certainty that it has not had any cases present.

MN The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP) Annual Eligibility Form United States Department of Agriculture (USDA)-4/2020

April 7, 2020 @ 3:30 p.m.

I am eligible to receive TEFAP commodity food because:

  • I am in Minnesota and
  • My household income is 300% or less of the Federal Poverty Guidelines.
  • I am also eligible if I receive or participate in the following services and programs: MFIP (Minnesota Family Investment Program), Child Care Assistance, GA (General Assistance), Head Start, SNAP (Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program), Section 8, NAPS (Nutritional Assistance Program for Seniors), Public Housing, WIC (Women, Infants, and Children), Energy Assistance, Free or reduced breakfast and lunch, Weatherization
Channel One Food Shelf Eligibility Guidelines

Form for Social Workers to pick up food for clients

March 30, 2020 @ 9:40 a.m.

Social workers, case managers and other professionals who are registering or picking up food for their clients must use this form in order to better track and manage distribution. Thank you!


Food boxes distribution on March 31st

March 26, 2020 @ 5:00 p.m.

Channel One is one of more than a dozen local non-profit organizations teaming up with the City of Rochester, Rochester Public Schools, and Cradle to Career to reach families in need.

On Tuesday, March 31, local families can pick up one free thirty-pound box of food at various school locations. The boxes include enough food to feed a family of four for approximately a week.

The food boxes can be picked up on March 31st at the following times and locations:

9:30 – 11 a.m. or while boxes are available:

  • Gage Elementary School
  • Sunset Terrace Elementary School
  • John Adams Middle School

12:30 – 2 p.m. or while boxes are available:

  • Riverside Central Elementary School
  • Mayo High School
  • Willow Creek Middle School

In order to ensure the safety of volunteers and residents, those picking up food will need to follow social distancing protocols at the drive-thru events.

  • Vehicles will pull up to the designated drive through location
  • Drivers MUST remain in their vehicle
  • Drivers will open their trunk remotely and the box will be placed in the trunk. If placing the box in the trunk is not an option, the box will be placed in the back seat of the vehicle

Food Boxes are available to any local family in need, with a limit of one box per family.

COVID-19 Operations Update

March 24, 2020 @ 9:30 a.m.

As of Monday, March 23, the Channel One Food Shelf is open for drive-up/curb-side registration and pick up ONLY. Hours remain the same, 8 am to 6 pm Monday through Thursday, and 8 am to noon Friday. The Salvation Army is also distributing boxes at their downtown location. Please check their website for updated information.

Households can come for a box of non-perishable groceries, and bags of limited amounts of perishable dairy, produce and frozen protein (meat). In order to follow health guidelines, we urge clients to come to Channel One only when in need of groceries.

If families are already registered, they can check in with the Channel One “community card” or Channel One ID number. Households can also check in with the name of the head of the household and their birthdate. New households can register curbside with the name of the head of the household and their birthdate, without further verifications. We only ask for enough information to be able to tell people apart, and decide how to serve them best.

Channel One does allow proxies to pick-up for clients at the food shelf. Group home staff, case workers, human services workers and any other social service professionals can serve as proxy for their clients. 

Olmsted County Health, Housing and Human Services has partnered with Channel One to help ensure the individuals they support have access to food. Beginning on March 24th, boxes of shelf-stable food will be available for staff to pick up and deliver to those in need on their caseload.

This is all the information we currently have. Our staff is overextended. We ask you please do not call or email the Food Shelf or individual Channel One staff about food boxes for your clients. Check Channel One website and Facebook page for the most current updates. 

COVID-19 Response

March 13, 2020 @ 6:00 p.m.

Along with “strengthening food access,” Channel One Regional Food Bank’s mission is also “to help build healthy communities.” Like many other organizations involved in keeping our communities healthy, we at Channel One Regional Food Bank have been keenly following news of the outbreak of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). Read more from Virginia Merritt, Executive Director at Channel One Regional Food Bank.

How You Can Help

Volunteer Needs:

Channel One  needs additional volunteers to pack emergency food boxes and to help fill the gaps we are seeing as many of its current volunteers fall in the at-risk or vulnerable populations category. Channel One is looking towards the community members who are not considered high-risk to step up and volunteer during this time.

Healthy low-risk individuals are encouraged to sign up for a shift here to help fill the gaps in its volunteer base.

Channel One volunteers are crucial to maintaining its operations, and with many individuals practicing social distancing or self-quarantine, we need the extra hands to support this increased need.

Increased Demand:

Channel One is planning for an increase in the need for its food programs because of the growing Covid-19 pandemic. Those who experience food insecurity and poverty are likely to be the most affected by CDC recommendations of community-based interventions such as school closings, event cancellations, social distancing, and employee plans to work remotely. Many of the individuals Channel One serves do not have the luxury of working from home, may not get paid if they are not able to work, and cannot purchase an increased supply of food and personal care items. If schools close, then there will be 8,087 students in Olmsted county alone who qualify for free and reduced lunch that could be missing up to two meals a day. Not to mention the increased cost of daycare while schools are closed. These strains on families can lead to them having to make difficult choices between food and housing costs. This is where Channel One can help people facing these issues. Channel One can take a $25 donation and turn it into 100 meals for individuals affected by the changes brought about from this growing pandemic.

You can make a secure online donation here.

Channel One is discouraging food drives at this point as they involve increased contact with others. The best way to help is to make a donation or volunteer.

Most importantly, please do not hesitate if you are experiencing some food insecurity. Whether you are faced with difficult times due to loss of shifts at work or closing daycares, Channel One is here for you. The process is easy and quick and you can shop immediately.

Thank you for your support during this time. Together we can strengthen food access and build healthy communities.