by Tara Durheim
At the end of December, the St. Joseph Community Food Shelf closed on purchasing the building the organization currently occupies at 18 Birch St. This will be the first time in the food shelf’s history that they own their space, adding stability and sustainability to the services it provides to the surrounding St. Joseph community.
“We are very excited to finally have a permanent home,” said Julie Gravgaard, food shelf co-coordinator. “After moving several times in the last few years, we are happy to have a stable location to serve those in need.”
The food shelf was started in 1987 by Fr. Mathias Spier, OSB, who was the assistant pastor for the Church of St. Joseph. The organization was housed at St. Benedict Monastery’s artisan studio and functioned as a service organization of the church. In 2000, the food shelf moved to the old City Hall building across from the St. Joseph Meat Market.
A year later, as demand continued to grow, it was decided the food shelf should become a community food shelf, so a board of directors was established for the non-profit organization that exists today. At that time, the food shelf was serving 15-20 clients per month. In 2015, the food shelf was serving 55-60 clients per month. At the end of 2022, the Food Shelf was serving 90-100 clients per month, and they expect that number to trend upward as basic need expenses continue to rise.
“Now that we own our building, we can more productively manage our budget and allocate donated funds to the resources we provide our clients,” said food shelf co-coordinator Ann Scherer.
As demand rises for the food shelf, so does the need for donations. The co-coordinators expressed a special thanks to the recent help of the attorneys at Rinke-Noonan who donated their services for the purchasing process of the building.
“We are so grateful for all the community members who help us with monetary and food donations,” Scherer said. “As the cost of food continues to rise, we are seeing more families needing to take advantage of the food shelf. That’s why we do what we do – to serve those in need.”
The St. Joseph Community Food Shelf is located at 18 Birch St. in St. Joseph. Hours are 1-3 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Donations can be dropped off or mailed to P.O. Box 121, St. Joseph, MN, 56374.