by Dennis Dalman
Although the St. Joseph Community Food Shelf does not benefit from March Food Share Month, this month is still a good time to make food or cash donations.
That is because food supplies typically decrease a bit after the Christmas season, and the food shelf could use some extra help in March.
Ann Scherer is president of the St. Joseph Community Food Shelf’s nine-member board, and she also serves as the service’s coordinator.
“We are a self-sufficient food shelf,” she said. “We are not tied into any government programs so we don’t get that doubling or tripling of food when people donate during March. We get our food through the grace of the St. Joseph community.”
Those who contribute generously, Scherer noted, are individuals, businesses, churches, the St. Joseph Coborn’s store, the Skalicky Foundation’s Community Challenge (matching grant program) through Stearns Bank and Sentry Bank.
There are collection boxes in the two banks, at Coborn’s and at Resurrection Lutheran Church and St. Joseph Catholic Church. Residents leave non-perishable food items in those boxes, and the contents are then given to the St. Joseph Community Food Shelf. All of the food collected at the St. Joseph Coborn’s store goes only to the St. Joseph Food Shelf, and Coborn’s also gives food (in addition to the donation-box contents) to the local food shelf three times a week.
“Coborn’s has been very good to us,” Scherer said.
The St. Joseph Community Food Shelf has been operating continuously for at least 20 years, Scherer noted. Before that, the city’s Catholic Church operated a food program. And the church and its parishioners, she added, still help hugely, as well as Resurrection Lutheran Church.
“They and others have been so good to us,” Scherer said.
Currently, an average of about 70 to 80 families need food from the St. Joseph food shelf each month, Scherer noted.
That’s up by about five families a month from the year before, and last year it was about by that number from the year before, she said.
The food shelf now serves 113 families annually, although some do not need food every month.
The St. Joseph food shelf, which is made possible by its 40 volunteers, is in the old city hall building, 25 First Ave. SE. It distributes food from 1-3 p.m. Mondays and Thursdays, though it will open if there is an emergency request.
“It is 100-percent volunteer,” Scherer said. “Without the volunteers, with such support from the community, we could not do it.”
Recurrent needs of the food shelf, Scherer noted, include the following: pancake mix and pancake syrup, jellies and jams, laundry soap, personal-care items such as shampoo, conditioner, deodorant, toothbrushes, toothpaste and other types of personal-hygiene products.
Those who want to make donations to the food shelf can do so by putting nonperishable food items in the collection boxes listed above. Or they can bring a check to the food shelf during its open hours. Those who want to send a contribution via check should make the check out to St. Joseph Community Food Shelf and send it to St. Joseph Community Food Shelf, P.O. Box 384, St. Joseph, Minn. 56374.