The idea is born in a Moorhead State University class. A pastor and the Volunteers for Community Service Director became involved, and shelves were built at Bethesda Lutheran Church, Moorhead, to house the food.
The pantry relocated to a Moorhead basement, but it was more than one person could handle. Help was requested from area churches.
Representatives from eight area churches organized the Fargo-Moorhead Emergency Food Pantry. By December, 22 churches were involved. During 1972, 180 deliveries were made to 603 people. Volunteers built new shelves, and the Pantry food was moved to a small room at Elim Lutheran Church in Fargo.
All F-M clergy were contacted to gain more Pantry support. Wayne Lubenow, a Midweek Eagle newspaper columnist, wrote articles promoting the support of the Pantry. Individuals and area businesses responded with donations. A Board of Directors was formed and met monthly. Church representatives brought regular contributions of food and money from their churches. In July the Pantry owed Red Owl Grocery $300 they could not pay. Instead of a week’s worth of food, only two days’ worth was given out until the Pantry could pay its debt and return to full operation.
A very successful Boy Scout food drive was held. The Fargo Elks Club donated $150/month to the Pantry after discontinuing their Christmas basket program. The Elks donated a freezer that was too large to fit in the Pantry so it sat on the Board President’s front porch until the Pantry moved again. The Fargo-Moorhead Inter-faith Council disbanded and donated its bank balance to the Pantry.
The Pantry incorporated in 1975. Referrals to the Pantry were made by social service agencies and churches. All donated money went to purchase food. Administrative costs were paid by Volunteers for Community Service, underwritten by United Way. One hundred Christmas baskets were delivered in December 1978.
In April the Pantry moved to larger quarters in the Unitarian Fellowship Building at 18 S 8th St in Fargo, and the freezer was moved from the President’s front porch!American Crystal Sugar began its continuing practice of donating sugar. Other continuing corporate donations began. In 1980 the Food Stamp program was in danger of ceasing operation for five months. The Pantry prepared to cover 350 Food Stamp requests per month if the program ceased operations for five months. Fortunately, the government program was restored in time. In 1980 food deliveries were up 38% over 1979. In 1982, the first USDA surplus foods were available to the Pantry. November was the busiest month with 7-10 deliveries per day.
A Walk for Hunger, KTHI food drive, and Dayton’s employees’ drive, among other sources, benefited the Pantry. Letters were sent to 54 new organizations and 39 churches. The Pantry served both Cass and Clay counties so began to participate in Minnesota FoodShare’s incentive program during March, resulting in more income. The present Great Plains Food Bank was organized in 1983, and questions arose as to how this was different from the Pantry. A pantry distributes food to individuals in the community; the food bank distributes food to pantries.
In July the Pantry moved to a house owned by St. Joseph’s Church in Moorhead. Donations purchased a refrigerator, vacuum cleaner, and needed electrical work. Domino’s Pizza began to promote the Pantry. The CROP Walk brought $2,841 to the Pantry. One hundred fifty Christmas baskets were prepared.
Board members were busy on the speaking circuit. Municipal Judge Davies levied an extra fine on convicted persons--$50 worth of food for the Pantry! The Pantry became independent from Volunteers for Community Service and United Way. Lucille Kingsley became the first paid Coordinator of the Pantry.
A van was donated by Northwestern Bell. Ann Kritzenberger became temporary Coordinator until Delores Gooselaw was hired. Volunteers appeared on television. A computer to record names of contacts arrived in 1987. The referral system changed. Clients could only use one referral agency and only three deliveries could be made to a client in a year. Hudson Foods provided food storage space. Minnesota FoodShare gave the Pantry 9,445 lbs of food compared to 5,028 in 1983. More food drives were conducted. The Bremer Foundation provided a $1,000 grant for publicity.
The Pantry moved again in August after about $40,000 worth of repairs were made to the 10th St N former fire station. Many companies, groups, and foundations provided the repair money. The monthly lease was $110. A walk-in freezer and cooler were provided through donations. An article in THE FORUM clarified the difference between the Great Plains Food Bank and the Emergency Food Pantry.
In January 1989 a Pantry Open House was held. Pantry Bylaws were changed. Clients began to come to the Pantry to pick up food ordered earlier through referral rather than having the food delivered to them. Lists were created that specified the amount and types of food to be chosen by volunteers for various sizes of families. Special needs and children were taken into consideration when selecting food. Perishable foods were added to carts at the last minute.
Linda Clark became Coordinator in 2000, and began her fourteen years of service at this time. She developed many contacts benefiting the Pantry, including relationships with gardeners who provide fresh produce. Linda very successfully increased volunteer engagement throughout her time at the Pantry, and retired in 2014 as the Manager of Client Services.
As the need to feed the hungry grew even greater, relocation was revisited. A large building at 4th Ave N and 11th St N owned by the City of Fargo has been leased to the Pantry. The Pantry raised nearly a million dollars for major remodeling, which is now complete. A grand opening was held on September 18, 2013, although the new location opened for business on September 10. The space is nearly double that of the 10th St N location, and the result will be a bright, clean, efficient space for the Pantry with adequate and safe parking for clients A temporary location at 1301 38th St N in Fargo served us well for several months during construction.
Greg Diehl and Pat Claus served as the Executive Directors.
Stacie Loegering began as the Executive Director.
A local group collaborated with the Emergency Food Pantry to begin the program of Birthday Bags. Families who receive a food basket and have a child's birthday that month receive a Birthday Bag which includes a cake mix, frosting, and handmade card.
The Emergency Food Pantry received a grant through Vitamin Angels to distribute vitamins to women who are pregnant or nursing and children who are 6 months through 4 years old. The Emergency Food Pantry served over 60,000 individuals. The number of individuals served has doubled in 4 years.
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