Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Ruby’s Pantry aids tight food budgets

Caption: Geordyn Kirsch, a Central Hillside resident and a Central High School Cheerleader, helps hand out food during Ruby’s Pantry distribution event. [Photo by Naomi Yaeger-Bischoff]

Over 400 people participated in the first Duluth distribution for Ruby’s Pantry in August. Ruby’s Pantry is an organization that picks up surplus food and other items from corporations and distributes it to those in need. People are asked to donate $15.00 and bring a couple of large containers, like laundry baskets, boxes or canvas bags. The $15.00 covers the cost of transportation and storage of the food. In return people end up with about $100.00 worth of food.

On Thursday, Aug. 19 blueberries, boiled eggs, whole frozen chickens, carrots and other food items were distributed.

Barb Hill, a member of First United Methodist Church, had visited the parent branch of Ruby’s Pantry in Moose Lake for about seven months, checking it out to see how to get the program to run in Duluth. Ruby’s Pantry is an outreach of Home and Away Ministries and is a 501 c 3. Hill describes her official role in Duluth as, “The bulldog that pushed it through.” Other faith groups to help include: Holy Cross Lutheran Church, Gloria Dei Lutheran Church, First Covenant Church, Lincoln Park Community Church and the Unitarian congregation.

The distribution is held at the Coppertop because the space is big enough, it’s one level and there is enough parking. At this event, the parking lot was full.

Ruby’s Pantry obtains overstock food and food that is near the expiration date. “Rather than dump it, they donate it,” said Hill. They get a tax write-off and we get food.” Shares typically include several loaves of bread, potatoes, milk, yogurt, cheese and other dairy products, along with an array of unexpected items: fresh fruit and vegetables, cereal, high protein rice dishes, even ice cream. The $15.00 covers fuel, maintenance of vehicles and licensing. Everyone is a volunteer.

“I know there is a need,” said Hill. “I believe there is no middle income left, people are living paycheck to paycheck, people have been laid off, businesses have closed. We’re happy to help.”
Ruby’s Pantry takes place the third Thursday of every month. The next distribution will be Sept. 16 from 5 until 7 p.m. Anyone can participate. A $15.00 donation covers the cost of transportation of the food. Bring sturdy containers and a friend to help carry all the food home. For more information phone (218) 727-5021.