Local food shelves combat holiday hunger
No time of year makes the ever-widening gulf between haves and have-nots clearer than Thanksgiving Day and Christmas, hitting the hardest on an empty stomach. While people of means blithely hunker down to holiday meals in settings fit for a Norman Rockwell-style scenario, more and more men, women and children literally don’t have it like that.
Food shelves help to fill the gap. The MSR found a few places that welcome those down on their luck. Not having the means to do as others do does not mean one has to do without.
Bethesda Baptist Church
“[On] Thanksgiving and Christmas we try to serve our community,” says Bethesda Missionary Baptist Church administrator Sister Norma Louis Booker. For those that may be in need, baskets of provisions are put together by volunteer parishioners who don’t mind taking the time, spending the energy, and, in some cases, traveling from a few towns over to meet at the Minneapolis church.
“We always try to do a ham or turkey or Cornish hen along with vegetables and other staples,” says Booker. There are, of course, sweets for the youngsters, some sort of pastry be it cupcakes, a pie, what have you. Located in Elliot Park, the church’s holiday fare is available to all, as is the weekly Monday food shelf (open from 10 am to 2 pm).
There’s a sizable clothing ministry as well. “We’re open to anyone who walks through the door. Social workers call us from Anoka, Ramsey County and all over.” Booker makes it clear that it is a ministry of the entire church, as everyone pitches in on a regular basis.
Members come from far and wide and include young and old. “There’s Bobby Morris, Kenya Morris [his wife], who come in from Big Lake, and Diane Thomas, and Mama D, whose health isn’t what it used to be but she still does what she can.”
Community Emergency Service
Community Emergency Service partnered this year for Thanksgiving with area nonprofit “Good in the Hood” to hand out dry goods, produce, dairy, and a food gift card. There will be a Christmas party with music, kids’ activities, and refreshments on December 21 from 9:30 am to 12:30 pm. Emily Ralph, food shelf program coordinator, states, “So much of our holiday celebrations center around a table—cooking, sharing and eating good food together. We are excited to be able to bless our neighbors with a special food basket to help them celebrate with their loved ones.”
Jericho Road Ministries
Jeff Noyed, director of Jericho Road Ministries, notes, “We shot well past our anticipated number of 300 to serve 420 families on Thanksgiving with a turkey, $10 gift card and over 20 pounds of other Thanksgiving food in November. Additionally, Fairview Clinic came in to supply flu and Hepatitis A shots to 84 people.
“I have read about the high cost of rents…and heard first-hand how high rents are taking upwards of 75% of a person’s monthly income,” Noyed continues. “That leaves little extra money for food, let alone a Thanksgiving dinner with a turkey. So, with great joy we were able to serve many, many people.”
He won’t be overseeing a special Christmas event, but, all things considered, business as usual will be quite welcome. Unlike most food shelves, recipients can visit Jericho’s pantry twice in the same month. Noyed adds, “We will be doing our ongoing Friday produce distribution throughout December from 10:30 to noon. People are welcome to come by.”
Mary F. Frey Opportunity Center
The Mary F. Frey Opportunity Center, while not a food shelf, is an invaluable resource for those who aren’t just disadvantaged but truly down and out, particularly the homeless. “Our meal services are important every day, and the holiday meals are even more meaningful,” says Program Manager Lisa Geehan. “Many of our guests don’t have family connections to experience holiday meals.”
It’s been said that, courtesy of head chef Ms. Bev, the food is pretty good, much better than what’s dished out at any run-of-the-mill “tramp-camp” soup kitchen. The Center is open all year round except Sundays, a one-stop-shop for, along with meals, laundry and showers, even a professional haircut.
Other services include a computer room for internet access, employment assistance with job search, resumes, one-on-one support and access to job skills training, counseling, medical and mental health care, screening for County benefits, shelter referrals, legal assistance, ID and birth certificate access, SNAP and MNSURE enrollment assistance, lockers, voicemail and mail.
Christmas baskets are distributed Dec. 20, 10 am – 2 pm at Bethesda Missionary Baptist Church located at 1118 S. 8th St., Minneapolis, 612-332-5904.
Community Emergency Service is located at 1900 11th Ave. S., Minneapolis, 612-870-1125.
Jubilee Community Church is located at 1628 East 33rd Street, Minneapolis. Hours are 2 to 5 pm weekdays. It’s also open between 5 and 6 pm by appointment for people working business hours. Call 612-455-1193.
The Mary F. Frey Opportunity Center is located at 740 E. 17th St., Minneapolis, 612-204-8300.
BONUS: Another food shelf opportunity presents itself on Saturday, Dec. 21 from 10 am – 2 pm at New Creation Baptist Church located at 1414 E. 48th Street in South Minneapolis. The church has a robust food shelf that is open to residents of the Twin Cities and surrounding areas every Saturday from 10 am – 2 pm on the first through the fourth Saturdays of every month (closed on fifth Saturday of any month with five weekends). Please remember to bring your state ID to register with the food shelf.