Area food shelf becomes mobile
Mobile Pantry to stop at Apple Valley church on Sept. 10
In 2007 the Eagan and Lakeville Resource Centers joined the food revolution by offering fresh produce, dairy and meats at the two food shelves. Now, the Eagan nonprofit is taking the food revolution to the streets by bringing the pantry to those in need.
“When looking at our clients’ greatest need, we found that a big part is transportation — many don’t have reliable modes,” said Sarah Schmidt, fresh food coordinator for the Resource Centers. “So we decided to take it to them.”
The nonprofit recently purchased a refurbished short bus that will roll out for the first time Sept. 10 to bring goods to Restoration Covenant Church at 7707 147th St. W. in Apple Valley. The center chose the church as the Mobile Pantry’s first destination since it is a gathering place in a busy location.
The Mobile Pantry can carry up to 1,800 pounds of food, which will consist primarily of fresh produce, dairy, eggs and meats.
Providing healthy options has been a large part of the center’s focus since it first began offering produce four years ago. Since then, the center’s pantries in Eagan and Lakeville have boosted the amount of fresh foods each year. In 2011, fresh and perishable foods accounted for 50 percent of the pantries’ stock, which rose to 70 percent this year.
“Our goal is to make it easier for families to access fresh and healthy food,” Schmidt said.
Families will be able to walk inside the truck, which is accessible to those with disabilities, to select items, which Schmidt said sets the center’s Mobile Pantry apart from others in the Twin Cities.
Several food banks offer mobile pantries but provide pre-packed bags of canned goods rather than allow clients to choose items that include fresh foods.
“We want people to have the freedom and flexibility to make choices,” Schmidt said.
Not only will families have access to food through the Mobile Pantry but also resources that connect them to assistance programs.
The Resource Centers plan to bring the Mobile Pantry to other sites in March.
Long-term, the center plans to deploy the Mobile Pantry about four times a month in several communities. When selecting a destination, the center will examine which communities are most in need, Schmidt said.
“We’re trying to look at it as one neighborhood at a time to get to that very localized need,” she said.
The Resource Centers are in need of volunteers to help pack the bus. Those interested in volunteering can call (651) 605-2886 or email email@example.com.
Those who are in need of services provided by the Mobile Pantry can call (651) 686-0787.