Food shelves have become a necessity these days

Here’s some comparison-shopping, heads-up on a few places in S. Mpls


Jericho Road Ministries, 1628 East 33rd Street, from cheerful volunteers to a usually bleary-eyed Director Jeff Noyed, is a caring operation that goes the extra step to help. You’re always made to feel welcome from the moment you step in the door with no one looking down their nose because you happen to be in need of a helping hand. It’s all about faith-based fellowship.

When resources permit, along with food, there’s aid with utilities, phone bills, bus cards. If they can’t help, they’ll provide a lead. There’s a free phone for local calls, a computer for Internet searches and checking your email. And you can go there twice a month.

I’m not much for Christianity, but the staff here may as well be saints. An indication of just how selflessly committed an initiative this is: Noyed left a job making considerably more money — in the middle of this mess we call an economy — to head up Jericho Road Ministries. And those bleary eyes are not from staying up nights, carousing. He puts in overtime like it was lunch, handling tasks big and small to get the job done.

Catholic Charities, 1308 E. Franklin Ave., is a slipshod crapshoot. You can show up on Monday and be lucky to get a box of cereal. Two days later, you can see someone walk out loaded down with groceries and it’s too late. You can’t go back for two weeks. The place is always mobbed. On the up side, if you’re 60 or older, you can enroll in NAPS, a program that guarantees you a monthly box of staples like juice, cheese, things that come in handy to get you through your week.

It’s been a long time since I went to CES (Community Emergency Service), 1900 11th Ave. South, because I’ve moved out their service area. But, for years, it was a well-stocked food shelf and, importantly, a resource for housing. There’s no reason to think anything’s changed. And, if you come across a volunteer named Dick — tall, friendly, real talkative guy with a ready smile and snowy hair — give him my regards. P.S., $20 or so will buy a package of meat that’s well worth the price.

It’s been two months and change since I frequented the Bethesda Missionary Baptist Church shelf at 1118 SE 8th St. Exactly the opposite of Jericho Road Ministries, the aggravation from personality challenged staff is way more than it’s worth. And after this last time, I’ll make do without.

The clothing rack is excellent. You can find plenty dress clothes, knock-around jeans and whatnot in between, all in good shape. They’re neatly laid out on tables, nicely hung on racks.


 I’m not much for Christianity, but the staff

[at Jericho Road Ministries] may as well be saints.


Personnel, though, is problematic. There’s this vicious old crone named after a flower, Sister Tulip, Violet, something. Should be Sister Stinkweed.

In all the years I’ve gone there, her disposition consistently is nasty as a backed up sewer. It’s common to be standing someplace and have her snarl from behind, “Move! Can’t you see I’m trying to get by?!” With what, the eyes in the back of my head?

I recall giving her a simple greeting, “How are you?” Getting the snotty retort, “I’m busy and don’t have time to stand around talking to you.”

Being civil simply is beyond her. Fact is, she’s a bully, using her advanced age and spindly frame as a defense to be abusive without worrying about someone hauling off and knocking her on her narrow behind.

And, last time there, this man made a lewd comment to a woman who, bent over, sorting clothes, showed an ample posterior. The kind of crass comment you’d expect on a street corner, not in a church.

There are volunteers — not all, but one is too many — who hog the tastiest bakery sweets for themselves. I’m standing at a clothing table before this huge box, a baker’s dozen of rich pastries. And hear, “Hey, that’s mine!” Not “Excuse me, it’s mine,” nothing anywhere near courteous.

Shouting from a few feet away, I turn and see, at easily 6’ 6”, hovering over me, it’s the jerk who’d made the crude comment to that woman trying to work (the whole time, he didn’t do a lick of work). How the hell was I supposed to know it was his? “Because, it’s over there, that’s how!”

Over there. Right next to the free clothing. It’s supposed to be self-evident the clothes are free, but not his pastry. Then, he took the box out to his car, saying, “I don’t want anyone to steal this.” When the sweets got there, instead of putting the box out with other donated items, he swiped it for himself. And has the nerve to talk about stealing.

The time before that, this woman took the only packs of cream-filled donuts and set the boring stuff out for clients. The philosophy: Christian charity, sure. With whatever’s left once I get mine.

Fortunately, Mama D and Sister Booker, individuals of character and integrity who genuinely care about those they are serving, oversee things. There is, accordingly, the hope that they’ll one day slap a muzzle on Sister Stank-Attitude and otherwise return the endeavor to the altruistic and welcoming environment it was years ago.

So, there you have a thumbnail sketch of a few places to go — or not to go — for a helping hand.


Dwight Hobbes welcomes reader responses to P.O. Box 50357, Mpls., 55403.