Ruby’s Pantry comes to CloquetA new program is coming to the Cloquet area targeted at giving a leg up to residents suffering tough times in the face of a faltering economy.
By: Wendy Johnson, Pine Journal
A new program is coming to the Cloquet area targeted at giving a leg up to residents suffering tough times in the face of a faltering economy.
“In times when money is hard to come by, pink-slips are all too common, bills are prevelent and budgets are tight,” said Pastor Dave Johnson of St. Paul’s Lutheran Church of Cloquet, “it is exciting to hear good news of help for those facing practical needs. The Cloquet Area Ministerial Association (a cooperative alliance of churches in the Cloquet area) has for some time been looking for an outreach that would do just such a thing for the many struggling families in our community. The answer that we believe God has placed before us is Ruby’s Pantry, an outreach ministry of Home and Away Ministries International.”
Ruby’s Pantry is a food distribution program that provides good, dated food, right off the store shelves, to those who are struggling to make ends meet. The program is named in honor of Ruby Flodin, a woman who lived in western Wisconsin for 89 years and shared produce from her garden and wild blueberries she picked with others in need.
“Ruby looked for every opportunity to share food from her pantry with others,” stated a spokesman for Home and Away Ministries. “One Christmas the neighbors down the road with four children had no money or food, so Ruby gathered food from her pantry and brought them a Christmas dinner fit for a king.”
Johnson explained the Ruby’s Pantry program takes food donated by national and regional grocery suppliers and puts it in the hands of those who need it most. Ruby’s Pantry is not a county- or state-based program but a non-profit outreach ministry designed to help fill the gaps not covered by most state or federal programs.
The way the program works is that each client desiring food – anyone needing help stretching those food dollars regardless of income – is invited to come to the drop point at the Cloquet Ara Recreational Center on the fourth Wednesday of each month at 11 a.m. Each client is asked to contribute $15 to help offset the cost of shipping and distribution.
“The food and distribution location are all donated,” said Johnson, “but it still costs money to ship, store, and deliver the food from the suppliers to our location.”
Each client will then receive anywhere from $75-$200 worth of food and assorted grocery and household products.
The Ruby’s Pantry program primarily serves rural communities in northeastern Minnesota and northwestern Wisconsin from its warehouse in North Branch after garnering corporate surplus supplies for distribution. A similar program is already in operation in Moose Lake, with food distribution set for the second Saturday of each month.
A program such as this does not run itself, however, and Johnson said there will be an ongoing need for volunteers to help make the local program happen.
“As you might guess, there is a lot of work involved in running this type of program,” he said. “We are estimating a need of 50-60 volunteers for each distribution. Taking a semi-trailer full of food and getting it into the hands of 300-400 families in 1-1/2 hours is indeed a daunting challenge. But seeing so many families blessed by your help carries its own reward.”
Anyone interested in helping with this outreach is invited to come to St. Paul’s Lutheran Church at 1705 Wilson Ave., Cloquet, at noon on Sunday, March 22, for a volunteer training session. Lunch will be provided.
If you have any questions about helping with this outreach to your Cloquet area neighbors, or about the program itself, please talk to any of the pastors at the following churches, or call St. Paul’s Lutheran at 218-879-5956.
The Cloquet Area Ministerial Association, the local sponsoring organization for the Ruby’s Pantry program, includes:
Bethany Lutheran Church, Cloquet Gospel Tabernacle, Cloquet Presbyterian Church, Grace Baptist Church, New Life Communtiy Church, Our Savior’s Lutheran Church, Pine Valley Covenant Church, Queen of Peace Catholic Church, River of Life Church, St. Paul’s Lutheran Church, Sandy Lake Baptist Church (Barnum), Sawyer Chapel, Son Life Community Church (Wrenshall), The Rock Worship Center, The Salvation Army and Zion Lutheran Church.
The Ruby’s Pantry program is primarily supported by gifts from individuals, civic organizations and churches.