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Wednesday, 04 May 2011 14:44
Starting May 12, FOCUS Minnesota will open its new Second Helping Food Shelf to serve those individuals and families who need supplemental and emergency food.
FOCUS MN Director Vera Proctor said that the new food shelf will “fill in the gaps” for those who run out of food at the end of the month or those who may have received some food from other food assistance programs but still do not have enough to feed themselves or their families.
“We hope to be able to help 30-50 people each week,” Proctor said. “We have a volunteer who has developed a software database for us that will help us keep an accurate inventory of our supplies and handle the intake and registration of our guests.”
Proctor said the database will be helpful in providing demographics for the guests that will be using the service. And to help the process run smoothly, anyone wishing to receive the free food supplements will have to pre-register through FOCUS MN before the weekly pick-up day.
When Proctor began researching how to set up the food pantry she realized she would need some quality storage for all the products and a safe place to keep it.
“Volunteers really helped bring this project together,” Proctor said. “All but two of our shelves were donated and the cage was sold to us at cost by the distributor who heard what it was going to be used for.”
Sheffield and Nouli Priest, members of Christ the Saviour OCA Church, installed the cage and in the end donated the remaining costs of the cage. Home Depot donated two of the shelving systems for the pantry and Sam’s Club gave FOCUS MN $50 off of the cost of the shelves from their warehouse.
Proctor said John Pound, also from Christ the Saviour OCA Church, has been instrumental in picking up and delivering the food and other staples.
The food for FOCUS MN’s Second Helping Food Shelf comes from the local Hope for the City Food Bank and from individual and church donations as well.
“Eventually, as we get the hang of things, we hope to tailor our services to fit the needs of those who regularly depend on the food shelf,” Proctor said. “For instance, our homeless guests may prefer to have bottled water and granola bars, but families will need things like Bisquick mix, cereal, rice, and meat.”
Proctor said they mainly need non-perishable goods like peanut butter, jelly, and rice, but things like cereal and small (2-lb) packages of ground beef are also in great demand.