Food shelf works toward expansion
WILLMAR -- The Willmar Area Food Shelf has raised $123,942 toward a goal of $350,000 for an expansion project to improve service and safety for hungry clients, the Willmar City Council was told Monday night.
WILLMAR - The Willmar Area Food Shelf has raised $123,942 toward a goal of $350,000 for an expansion project to improve service and safety for hungry clients, the Willmar City Council was told Monday night.
Executive Director Christie Kurth said the food shelf is adding a receiving dock where semi trucks can back up and unload on the west side of the building rather than blocking traffic on Pacific Avenue while unloading on the south side of the building.
The plan includes adding a small office space in the front of the building to repurpose the current offices to make more space.
Kurth said the food shelf sometimes gets “crazy busy.’’ In 2014, volunteers and staff assisted 10,187 households - 17,345 adults and 12,185 children - and distributed a record-breaking 1,201,336 pounds of food.
“We do the food shelf shuffle,’’ Kurth said. “We have one door that goes into our shopping area. That’s also same door where the food goes from our receiving (area) to our warehouse, and the same door where we bring the food into the lobby. So we have people going in and out all the time. We plan to create another door in our main area to have a very clear in and out.’’
Kurth said the food shelf will be receiving donations in the back so that food will be coming into the warehouse where it will be processed. Also, the lobby will be opened up to be able to more efficiently and safely serve clients.
“At any one time, the food shelf has between 40,000 and 50,000 pounds of food,’’ Kurth said. “That’s probably about 40 semi-trucks full of food. That tells what comes in really goes out. We don’t have room to store that amount of food. That’s why we’re in the midst of a capital campaign in needing to expand our facility.’’
During the March FoodShare drive when the Willmar food shelf joins other food shelves around the state in raising money and food donations, Kurth said the Willmar shelf will hold its big chili fest fundraiser March 2 and its annual Radio for Relief event March 27.
“We could not do what we do for our neighbors in need without the residents of Willmar and of Kandiyohi County, whether it’s the volunteer hours, whether it’s donations. We really could not do what we do without all of you,’’ Kurth said.
Kurth has been with the food shelf since 2005 and is the fourth coordinator/executive director since the food shelf started in 1982. Besides the downtown location, the food shelf expanded to a branch location in New London in 2009 and opened an office for students in the Ridgewater College Campus Ministry Building.
The food shelf’s mission statement, Kurth said, is responding collectively using community resources to relieve the suffering of poverty by providing food assistance.
The food shelf’s vision, she said, is that hunger is no longer a barrier to the health and well being of the people in Kandiyohi County.
“The food shelf is neighbors helping neighbors,’’ Kurth said. “The food shelf is committed to helping all those in need with an open mind and finding innovative ways to respond to poverty with respect and dignity.’’
READ MORE: The November/December issue of Business 2 Business focuses on how local businesses support the Willmar Area Food Shelf.