by Heidi L. Everett
After weeks of uncertainty, the St. Joseph Food Shelf will open its doors in a new location Feb. 8.
“This community has been unbelievable for us in the 11th hour,” said Julie Gravgaard, co-coordinator of the St. Joseph Food Shelf, as she shared the new address at 18 Birch Street E.
With the sale of the former Kennedy building in December, the St. Joseph Food Shelf needed to find a new home.
“The city had been exploring options to relocate for several weeks,” said Therese Haffner, St. Joseph city administrator. “Some options were viable; however, the food shelf was also looking on their own as well.”
Finding new space had its challenges.
“The most unique challenge we have would probably be money,” Gravgaard said. “Every dollar we have to put out for rent or heat or electricity is money that could be used to feed a family.”
The City of St. Joseph had been providing rent-free space in the former Kennedy building as well as free utilities.
Location also was problematic. “Many of our people walk to our building, many with walkers. Staying downtown was best rather than having people try and cross over 75 to get to us,” Gravgaard said.
Thanks to Brian Posch, owner of the building on Birch Street, and other community members, the food shelf is able to overcome both challenges. Posch offered the building at a reduced rent, and another community member agreed to pay the rent for two years, Gravgaard said.
The building, which has been home to Complete Electronics, also is located on the downtown side of County Rd. 75 for easier access.
“Brian has been a savior for us, and the community has been wonderful,” she said.
The food shelf serves 100 families on a monthly basis, Gravgaard said.
“We occasionally have individuals too, like senior citizens who might be struggling the week before their checks come or someone whose car is broken and they can’t get to the store. They need something to get by until their car is fixed,” she said.
The change of venue will need to be seamless.
“We’ll be open Thursday, Feb. 4, shut down Friday, move over the weekend and open back up on Monday, Feb. 8,” Gravgaard said.
The food shelf will continue its regular hours, Mondays and Thursdays from 1 to 3 p.m., but Gravgaard is quick to point out service often extends beyond those hours.
“While it seems we are only open on Mondays and Thursdays, people aren’t just hungry on Mondays and Thursdays. We get calls at all times of day and night and throughout the week for help,” Gravgaard said.
The St. Joseph Food Shelf can be reached at (478) 213-2700.