Food Pantry: New site, many benefits
If a three-year lease is signed as expected, the River Falls Community Food Pantry will be operating at the old Mr. Movies store, 222 N. Main St., behind Bo Jon's Flowers by July 1.
Steve Smith and Janna Carl, key members of the food pantry, will help lead the transfer from Ezekiel Lutheran Church. The old Mr. Movies interior -- about 4,000 square feet -- will be split between the food pantry and Foster Community Foundation. The nonprofit groups work in tandem and hope to sign a three-year lease. The goal is to build a food pantry/community/seniors center on acreage that once housed Foster trailer court by the Falls Street Bridge.
By vacating Ezekiel Lutheran Church, RFCFP gives up rent-free space it's had at the church for decades.
"We've been looking for a new location for two years," says food pantry director Janna Carl. "We're tight on space at the church, particularly storage space, and we're giving out more food, seeing more clients, and those two things have only increased because of the economy."
Before Ezekiel remodeled and built an addition in 2005, the food pantry operated out of a closet and by appointment only.
After the expansion, church leaders set aside space for the food pantry room on the second floor.
This allowed for a reception area, checkout counter, store with shelving units and freezers, plus classrooms and closets for storage. The food pantry's only expense was covering utility costs.
Steve Smith, vice president of the RFCFP board of directors, said the new digs and set hours made a difference.
"Things have snowballed ever since," he said. "The usage has increased, but we're still not meeting the needs of everyone who needs it, so we have to do something else."
Anyone wanting to volunteer can call the food pantry at 425-8294 (Ezekiel's number), ext. 119, or stop in during store hours, 202 S. Second Street: 10 a.m. to noon and 6:30-8 p.m. Mondays; 1-5 p.m. Wednesdays; 6:30-8 p.m. Thursdays; and 10 a.m. to noon Fridays and Saturdays. Enter on the Walnut Street door, go to the second floor.
The next food pantry board meeting starts at 6 p.m. Tuesday, May 18, in room 190 at Ezekiel. A presentation about the move will be made. The public is welcome to attend and ask questions.
RFCFP recently became a legalized nonprofit entity. Donations are tax deductible. They can be sent to the food pantry at 202 S. Second St. Checks can be earmarked to the "new facility" to help defray rent.
Read more on this story in the May 6 print edition of the River Falls Journal.