MARSHALL - Almost 400 people are being served each month at Ruby's Pantry in Marshall.
The food distribution program, which is sponsored by Holy Redeemer Church, takes place from 4:30-6 p.m. the first Thursday of every month at the National Guard Armory in Marshall.
Ruby's Pantry is a community outreach of Home and Away Ministries, Inc. The Marshall program is a partnership between Hunger Free Minnesota and Western Community Action. The first food distribution in Marshall was Oct. 3.
"We've had between 360-380 guests come to donate for a share of food each month," said Margaret Palan, the community resource specialist for WCA.
For a $15 cash donation, people receive a laundry basket full of food, about 60 to 80 pounds, depending on the items offered that month.
"It's gone well," she said. "I'm real happy."
Palan said families are buying an average of two baskets full of food items.
"Everyone is welcome," she said. "There are no income guidelines. It's not a government program, and you aren't taking food from someone else. The more come, the better."
People are coming from a 50-mile radius around southwestern Minnesota, Palan said.
"They car pool, from a distance, which is great," she said. "They come to Marshall for Ruby's and do other errands while in town."
Palan appreciates the community support for the program.
"The hosting group, Holy Redeemer Church, have been so generous with their time in organizing this new food distribution," she said. "Thanks to Father Paul Wolf, the Ruby's Leaders and parishioners from Holy Redeemer for making this possible in Marshall. Also thanks to many other volunteer groups who have come forward each month, from churches, banks, hospitals, businesses and the youth. We need all of them to keep this going."
About 75-100 volunteers help each month to set up, distribute the food, help carry groceries and clean up, Palan said.
Ruby's Pantry serves most of the counties in northern Minnesota and northern Wisconsin and is primarily supported by the participants at the food distributions and also receives gifts from individuals, civic organizations, churches and corporate and foundation grants, according to its website, rubyspantry.org.