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Food Shelf continues to operate, but with changes

MARSHALL — Individuals and families who relied on infusions of groceries from the food shelf can still get a monthly allotment.

The monthly food program, Ruby’s Pantry, however, has canceled its April distribution which would have been Thursday at the Armory in Marshall.

The local food shelf is still operating, but with necessary changes to accommodate the social distancing rules that are currently in place because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Instead of entering the United Community Action Partnership building and going to the Kitchen Table Food Shelf and selecting items, clients have volunteers shop for them while waiting outside.

“We are open our regular hours — 12:30-4:15 p.m. Monday, Wednesday and Friday — for our clients as always with outside service only,” said Margaret Palan, UCAP’s community resource manager who oversees the food shelves. Palan added that in the past the food shelf is closed on Good Friday and they are going to keep to that tradition.

All the services UCAP provides are still ongoing.

“Our doors are locked out here at UCAP but phone calls can be made into the office at 507-537-1416 and a case worker will return their calls,” Palan said.

The new food shelf system is working well and takes about the same amount of time as the regular system or maybe it’s quicker, Palan said.“Our volunteers know where everything is.”

There is a tape outlined so clients know not to go farther.

“Lori (Lerohl, food shelf coordinator) comes out (wearing gloves) and takes an order,” said Palan.

The previous system had the client selecting a certain amount of what they would actually use so they don’t receive random food they wouldn’t eat. The new, temporary system keeps to that protocol for the most part. The food is placed on a table through a window and the client can wheel a shopping cart to their vehicle for loading. The shopping cart is then wiped down.

Palan said the food shelf still works with local grocery stores to receive items that are near their expiration date. The food shelf also works with Second Harvest, one of the nation’s largest hunger-relief organizations.

Palan said the food shelf’s March FoodShare Campaign has been extended through April 12.

“All gifts to our food shelves are always used within that community,” said Palan. “Gifts of money work best.”

The FoodShare March Campaign is the largest grassroots food and fund drive in the state. All donations received during the March Campaign are reported to FoodShare, and each food shelf receives an incentive check based on their donations collected. Anyone interested in learning more about how they can help can contact Palan or Lerohl at 507-537-1416.

The food shelf has community partners such as United Way of Southwest Minnesota.

“They continue to be very supportive,” Palan said.

So far the food shelf is seeing about the same amount of volume, but Palan is seeing people who haven’t use the service at all or it’s been five years and they have needed to come back because they have been laid off of their jobs.

There are enough volunteers to help with the process, she said.

“We have youth groups who want to help out, bless their hearts, but we can’t use them,” Palan said. “We have to keep a tight ship.”

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