10/5/2017 1:22:00 PM Longville Food Shelf celebrates new facility
October is Food Shelf Month in Minnesota
After 20 years of hard work from community members and volunteer staff, Longville now has a brand-new Food Shelf facility. From humble beginnings and shared spaces, Longville Area Food Shelf has climbed high to provide the best for itís patrons. Photo by Ally Garbe.
By Ally Garbe of the Press-Citizen
Longville's Food Shelf has a long, changing history and has recently moved to a brand-new facility next to Tossed & Found. They will be holding a community open house Monday, October 9 from 11:00 a.m. - 2:00 p.m.
Longville Area Food Shelf is staffed by dedicated volunteers both at the food shelf and in the Tossed and Found Boutique, who are extremely grateful for the support of the local community.
In 1997, the Longville Area Food Shelf began as an umbrella program under the Northland Area Family Center in the basement of the local funeral home. Aside from one paid staff member who manages the program, it has been staffed predominantly by volunteer members of the four local churches.
The idea of a thrift store (Tossed & Found Boutique) was developed where good, gently used merchandise that could be cleaned, priced and sold in order to help support the food shelf.
October of 2006 a building at the south end of Longville was purchased to create Tossed & Found Boutique. The building was able to house Longville Area Food Shelf, Tossed & Found and had an efficiency apartment. Tossed & Found opened its doors in February 2007 and took over the apartment space the following year. Profits from the store have paid all overhead expenses of running both programs.
Tossed & Found was always short of space, so in 2013 the former Ron's Hardware building was purchased and Tossed & Found moved to the north end of Longville. The Food Shelf remained south of town, and took over the entire building. Around the same time, the Family Center went through reconstruction. Longville Area Food Shelf and Tossed & Found filed for its own non-profit status; this process was completed in 2014.
A majority of food for the food shelf is purchased from Second Harvest North Central Food Bank with great savings. However, it's becoming increasingly difficult to get product that is not in bulk; it must be broken down into individual and/or family size servings. Longville Area Food Shelf was not equipped with an appropriate 'clean room' to do this. With space at the food shelf building already cramped for volunteers and clients, modifying the space would have been cost prohibitive.
In 2016, the lot next to Tossed & Found was available for purchase. Since Longville Area Food Shelf and Tossed & Found is an umbrella program, their board decided to purchase this land. Fittingly, these "sister programs" should be operationally and visibly next to each other. Plans were developed by advisory and building committees for a facility to meet the specific needs of Longville Area Food Shelf.
Bids were taken by local contractors, but with winter in full force, the goal of a functional building by fall would not be met.
Morton Buildings was able to put up the building's shell during winter, allowing contractors to finish the interior of the building by their deadline. With a construction loan having been obtained, construction began in March 2017. All expenses will be covered by proceeds from Tossed & Found Boutique, so whenever anyone donates to the food shelf, 100% of that donation is used to purchase food!
The food shelf is currently open every Wednesday and the first Thursday of the month from 11:00 a.m. - 3:00 p.m. Longville Area Food Shelf's usage has been climbing over the past several years and now has increased about thirty five percent since 2007. Fifty percent of clients report food insecurity (not knowing where their next meal is going to come from), fifty four percent actually have to skip several meals a month to stretch their food supply and twenty two and a half percent report hunger each month. Twenty percent of clients are employed full-time, another twenty percent are part-time and seventeen percent are retired. Forty five percent have to choose between food and gas, while another twelve percent have to choose between food and rent. Forty percent report having at least one family member in poor health.
Longville Area Food Shelf offers emergency food boxes, NAPS (nutritional assistance program for seniors), holiday meals at Thanksgiving and Christmas, Kid's packs-to-go for children aged 3-11 in the summer months, sample recipes for food shelf products, a food shelf/community garden, milk vouchers, eggs, bread, fresh produce and nutritional/education classes.
If you are able, donations to your local food shelf - regardless of where you call home- will help someone in need living in your community.