Ruby’s Pantry food distribution opening new site in LF at Bethel Lutheran

First distribution date is Monday, June 25

By Jennie Zeitler, Staff Writer
jennie.zeitler@mcrecord.com 

All who wish to pick up food should bring a laundry basket, grocery store tote box or similar container to Bethel Lutheran Monday, June 25 at 4:30 p.m. Pictured is Tim Poland, executive director of Oasis Central Minnesota.

Ruby’s Pantry will start distributing food at Bethel Lutheran in Little Falls Monday, June 25. The wildly successful program currently has sites at 36 locations in Minnesota and Wisconsin, including Brainerd and Ramey.

“They wanted to open a site in Little Falls to take some of the pressure off the other sites,” said Oasis Central Minnesota Executive Director Tim Poland, who is coordinating the program in Little Falls. “Brainerd is serving 600-700 people each month. Ramey, a town of about 25, is serving about 600 people.”

For a $15 cash donation, people receive a laundry basket or box full of assorted food items. No preregistration is required.

Participants receive a variety of foods which may include fresh produce, canned goods, meat, dairy products, frozen and refrigerated items. The distributions are different each time, depending on what surplus foods are obtained that month.

Ruby’s Pantry is not a government program. It is self-funded by  those who participate. It’s a way for surplus food to be channeled to those who need it most. Often families leave with more than $100 or even $200 worth of groceries.

The cash donation of $15 helps cover fuel costs and other associated expenses. The food itself is not sold.

Of the donation given, $3 will go to Oasis for use in Morrison County, and $12 goes to Ruby’s Pantry.

Home and Away Ministries started Ruby’s Pantry in 2003 as a community outreach. Food is distributed through a central warehouse in North Branch.

Ruby’s Pantry is about picking up corporate surplus, distributing it to community partners and into the hands of people, “turning waste into wellness,” according to their Web site.

“A person does not have a choice of which options to choose, but can say no to any item,” Poland said. There are 12-15 different types of items.

“Any dry or canned foods left over will be moved on to the next distribution site on the schedule,” he said. “But fresh or frozen foods will be donated to the Morrison County Food Shelf.”

There are no income guidelines for this program; no need to qualify. Everyone is welcome.

“You could be a millionaire standing next to someone spending their last $15,” said Poland.

People wanting to participate need to bring their own containers, such as a laundry basket, grocery store tote box or similar container. There will be grocery carts to transport the items to vehicles, and volunteers to help.

A semi-trailer will arrive two hours before the distribution and a forklift will unload the pallets of food items.

The doors open at 4 p.m., for people to start registering. The distribution site is open for an hour and a half, and people can come any time during that period.

“We are encouraging churches to buy five to 10 boxes and distribute them to their members,” he said. “Ruby’s Pantry calls those ‘Blessing Boxes.’”

The distribution will be Monday, June 25 at Bethel Lutheran, 901 Broadway Avenue W. in Little Falls, from 4:30 p.m. – 6 p.m.

Those wanting to volunteer, or who need information, may call Tim at Oasis at (320) 632-9140 or e-mail at oasiscm@live.com.

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