Ruby’s Pantry coming to Austin area

Published 8:55 am Saturday, August 10, 2019

A new share-based food distribution service is coming to Austin, part of a Wisconsin-based non-profit that gets food to those who need it the most.

Ruby’s Pantry is slated to open on Thursday, Sept. 19, at Grace Lutheran Church, located at 2001 Sixth Ave. SE near Ellis Middle School.

The service is open to all when they purchase shares for a cash donationof $20 for each share. Shares will include 18 to 20 items each month, which will include one meat item, one dairy item and one bread item each.

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Share’s purchased can be used by the individual shareholders or donated to a friend, a neighbor or relative. The idea is to help people stretch their food dollar and to get neighbor helping neighbor.

Ruby’s Pantry has sites throughout Minnesota and Wisconsin.

“We had a church group, about a year or more ago, that decided we wanted to get out in the community and help out,” said Bob Rosel, who is helping organize the pantry. “We went around and asked various business executives, leaders, managers and administrators of civic groups and asked what do they see as the strengths of Austin and some of the area’s struggles.”

What they found was that a significant part of the population is living paycheck to paycheck. The group hit on Ruby’s Pantry, and after visiting a site in Albert Lea, decided it was the way to go.

“It’s a means of getting a little more,” Rosel said.

Those wishing to register for Ruby’s Pantry can register for the service beginning at 4 p.m. on Sept. 19, with the distribution of food starting at around 5 p.m. and ending at 6:30 p.m.

This schedule will continue each third Thursday of every month throughout the year. People should bring their own containers (two boxes or baskets or totes for each share).

A portion of the donation for each share goes to cover costs of Ruby’s Pantry that includes warehousing, corporate donations, trucking items and other distribution costs.

A percentage of each share, however,  stays with the local Ruby’s Pantry to be used for helping those in need within the pantry’s local area.

Even though this is based in a church, Rosel wants people to know that this is a community and county effort. They want the benefits of Ruby’s Pantry to reach out to everybody in the area in hopes they will have a stake in what’s being done.

“It’s not meant to be a church effort,” Rosel said. “We’re hoping it’s a community effort. We’re hoping to get people from all over the area to help out.”

That’s where you can come in. The pantry is also looking for volunteers.

At least 40 volunteers are needed each month to operate the pantry. This includes unloading the truck and set-up at the site, help with parking, registration, distribution, loading shares into the shareholder’s vehicles and site clean-up.

This opportunity is open to church groups, civic organizations, businesses, school groups and individuals. Volunteers can work entire shifts, from 2 p.m. for truck unloading to 7:30 p.m. for clean-up or partial shifts that include stints of about two and a half to three hours.

The first volunteer orientation will be Thursday, Aug. 15, at Grace Lutheran Church with coordinators from 4-6 p.m. and general volunteers from 6-8 p.m. Anybody who is interested can call Grace Lutheran Church at 1-507-433-3445.