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Food pantry opens at new site

In the spacious new confines of the River Falls Community Food Pantry, volunteers Rick and Barb Pechacek stand by the table where fresh produce is donated by local gardeners. On Saturday the moving of goods, supplies and furnishings from the second floor of Ezekiel Lutheran Church to the new site was expedited thanks to the efforts of a high school student group called "Fellowship of Christian Athletes." Phil Pfuehler photos1 / 2
Janna Carl, food pantry executive director, sits in the waiting area by the front counter. The design and look is meant to give kids room to play while parents browse the food aisles. Phil Pfuehler photo.2 / 2

Monday morning's opening of the River Falls Community Food Pantry was filled with sunlight. It shined in the front windows at RFCFP's new location, 222 N. Main St., where Mr. Movies once was.

"We're thrilled to having the moving over and to finally be here," said food pantry Executive Director Janna Carl. "It took a lot of hard work and planning to accomplish. The decision to move was not made lightly."

The relocation to the old Mr. Movies site was finished after hundreds of hours of volunteer labor by more than 20 people, including contractors, to renovate the interior.

The food pantry closed only one day -- Saturday -- during the weekend transition.

The new location gives food pantry clients a parking lot by the front door; ground-floor handicapped accessibility; a larger, child-friendly waiting area; and wider aisles between shelves.

Compact storage next to the aisles makes it easy to restock when items run low.

"It was important for us to have an open layout with bright, cheerful colors," Carl said. "Having to use a food pantry can be difficult, even stressful, so we wanted to alleviate that feeling as best we could for our clients."

The food pantry has scheduled two open houses to show off the new store: 1-5 p.m. this Saturday and 4-8 p.m. Tuesday. There will be refreshments and treats.

"We're real excited for the public to see how it looks," Carl said. "Stop in if you can."

Carl adds that food pantries relocating from a church to a free-standing site typically see a 10-20% jump in usage.

"It's a matter of having a bigger, more accessible place," she said.

For more than two decades the River Falls Food Pantry was given free space at Ezekiel Lutheran Church. It now pays monthly rent at the new site.

Carl said food pantry hours remain the same: 10 a.m. to noon and 6:30-8 p.m. Monday; 1-5 p.m. Wednesday; 6:30-8 p.m. Thursday; 10 a.m. to noon Friday and Saturday.

The food pantry does have a phone number now: 715-425-6880. The e-mail address is and the website is

Donors are asked not to drop off things at the food pantry when the store's closed.

"Because of outside temperature variations and animals, we can't use it," Carl said. "We couldn't vouch for the quality, and it wouldn't be safe to distribute."

In other words, bring donations to the food pantry during store hours or drop them off at these churches: First Congregational, United Methodist, Ezekiel and St. Bridget.

Larger donated shipments can be made at the food pantry's alley-loading door.

Financial contributions can be mailed to: River Falls Community Food Pantry Inc./P.O. Box 341/River Falls WI 54022.