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Hudson Food Shelf has helped sustain families for more than 30 years

This is what happens to the bags residents buy for the food shelf at local grocery stores. The items are being sorted by Jerry Conley, left and Anne Stowell. (photo by Meg Heaton)1 / 5
Grace and Johnson Gulden began the food shelf more than 30 years ago out of the trunk of their car. Today it operates out of St. Patrick's Church and regularly serves individuals and families in the Hudson area. 2 / 5
Making the food shelf work for those in need in Hudson are from left, Shawn Porter, Grace Guldan and Spencer Porter. (photo by Meg Heaton)3 / 5
The food shelf relies both on the donations of a wide variety of items as well as financial donations to keep the shelves stocked.4 / 5
A loyal group of volunteers is at the heart of the Hudson Food Shelf. Pictured from left are John Gulden, Merritt Stigen and Dale Johnson.5 / 5

Grace and John Guldan of Hudson have been all about helping feed families in Hudson for more than 30 years. What began out of the trunk of their car in 1985 has become the Hudson Food Shelf that serves an average of 156 adults, 114 children, 38 seniors and distributes more than 16,000 pounds of food every month.

The Guldans will be honored for their work on Sunday, Oct. 23 at St. Patrick’s Catholic Church after the 8:30 a.m.and 10:30 a.m. masses. The couple say they recognized a need in the community and with the help of Fr. Bob O’Connell, the pastor back in 1985, they set about to do something about it.

They went to local grocery stores to ask for donations and got the word out to others about making donations of items or cash to buy food. In those early days, they collected the food and then delivered door-to-door. Once the word got out, the names of those who needed some help reached them.

Initially called the Christian Food Cupboard, the Hudson Food Shelf has continued to grow over the years, in the number of people they serve, the size and quantity of donations they receive and the crew of volunteers who help it all get to those who need it most. With regulation cash donations they receive, the Hudson Food Shelf, along with more than a dozen other community food shelves in the area, is able to get food from the United Way food distribution center in Hudson.

Every week, the food shelf receives between 25 to 30 grocery bags full of food assembled at local grocery stores and purchased by shoppers at checkouts to be sent on to the food shelf. Recently, one area company sent over five pickup trucks full of paper products.

Every Monday, the food shelf is open to distribute fresh produce, baked goods and other items donated every week from County Market and Family Fresh. According to John Guldan, “There is always a need and good people around to help us fill it. It works for everybody.”

In addition to the regular volunteers that work, 12 area churches take turns stacking the food shelves every month. And in the summer and fall, people donate fruit and vegetables fresh from their gardens.

The Guldans continue to volunteer when they are in Hudson, but these days leave for a warmer climate in the winter. Shawn Porter and her husband Spencer have stepped in to manage things and are doing “a fine job” according to Grace.

But whether the donation is a truckload of items or one can of soup, the Guldans want the community to know it all helps in a big way.

Meg Heaton

Meg Heaton has been a reporter with the Hudson Star Observer since 1990. She has a bachelor’s degree in anthropology and Native American Studies from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire.

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