Patrons of the Big Lake Community Food Shelf have grown accustomed to visiting the local pantry on Monday and Thursday nights or Wednesday mornings.
But now, the Big Lake Community Food Shelf is coming to its patrons.
With the help of a $10,000 grant from Cargill, the food shelf has rolled out a mobile food shelf delivery service.
Local employees at Cargill Kitchen Solutions in Big Lake and Monticello teamed with the corporate giving arm of Cargill to help support the mobile food shelf.
“Nourishing people is such a strong focus of our company,” said Pete Stoddart, director of community and employee engagement for Cargill.
There was no doubt that for Cargill, teaming with the Big Lake Community Food Shelf was the perfect collaboration.
Sandy McClurg, director of the Big Lake Community Food Shelf, it was ironic that Cargill and the food shelf found each other.
Stoddart called the food shelf searching for a project the company might participate in, McClurg recalled.
“We were just in the planning stage of the mobile food shelf when Pete called,” she said.
“We were looking to participate in an entrepreneurial opportunity like this,” Stoddart said.
The funding came from dollars budgeted locally to help the community. Stoddart was key in finding a corporate match for funds contributed by the local Cargill Kitchen Solutions plants.
The program is designed for those who find it difficult to make a regular trip to the food shelf at 160 Lake St. N. in Big Lake. That difficulty might arise because the food shelf’s weekly hours of 5:30-7:30 p.m. on Monday and Thursday or 9-11 a.m. on Wednesday mornings and the second Saturday of each month don’t fit into one’s schedule. A disability might make visiting the food shelf a challenge, too. For some, pride might get in the way of one meeting their grocery needs, as well.
What ever the reason, those at the Big Lake Community Food Shelf are there to help, says Director Sandy McClurg.
There are 150 to 200 families who utility the food shelf each month, McClurg said.
The new mobile pantry delivers on days that the food shelf doors are not open, which would generally be Tuesdays and Fridays.
“There is no overlapping of services,” McClurg said.
However, those using the mobile food shelf service must meet income eligibility requirements. Put another way, those using the service must be low income.
There are several keys to making the mobile food shelf program a success.
One was having access to a van that volunteers could use to make the deliveries.
Another was the volunteers themselves.
It takes three teams of people to make the mobile food shelf a success, McClurg said.
One team takes phone calls from mobile food shelf patrons and takes the patrons’ orders.
A second team picks the orders from the pantry’s shelves and packs the orders for delivery.
Using the food shelf’s van, a third team hits the streets of Big Lake and makes the deliveries.
With those 150-200 families utilizing the Big Lake Community Food Shelf each month, and with each family averaging about 50 pounds per food per visit, there is a growing need for assistance in the community, McClurg said.
“The need is serious in our community,” she said.
And with Cargill’s support, bringing food to those in need is going to be a real game-changer, McClurg said.
Reach Jeff Hage at email@example.com