A helping hand

The Southwest Journal has partnered with the Joyce Uptown Foodshelf on a new fundraising campaign to fight hunger in our community. The foodshelf at 3041 Fremont Ave. S. has been serving the hungry in southwest Minneapolis for more than 40 years. We’ve created an online fundraising campaign at GiveMN.org to support the foodshelf and we hope you’ll be inspired to donate as we approach the holidays. Our company will be matching donations up to $1,000. Here are highlights of a recent interview with the foodshelf’s director Becky Spence.

SWJ: Can you give a little overview of the foodshelf? How many people do you serve?

Our foodshelf was founded in 1969 by the then pastor of Joyce United Methodist Church because one of the families needed help with food as they were settling here from a far away land. We are a 501(c)(3) nonprofit outreach program of the Joyce United Methodist Church. We maintain our own board of directors and staff. Our funds are separate from the church as we have a budget each year to go by.

What is the best way for people to help the food shelf?

We have four major ways we get our food and donated money: Donations of food are made from individuals, churches, organizations, Uptown Rotary and local food drives. The Emergency Foodshelf Network is a coalition of 26 Hennepin County foodshelves which purchases from food suppliers at a discounted rate. Second Harvest Heartland Food Bank receives food from major corporations and provides it to the foodshelves for a minimal delivery charge. We are also part of the federal government’s surplus commodities program.

We use donated money to purchase food from some of the above mentioned sources at a discounted price of approximately 20 cents per pound. Food occasionally is purchased at retail prices when required for nutritional balance.

What area do you serve?

We cover a large part of Southwest Minneapolis. Our boundaries are 25th Street to the north, 62nd Street to the south, France Avenue on the west and Lyndale Avenue on the east.  

All of our clients need to live in our service area because of the many foodshelves available in Minneapolis, every address has a foodshelf, we refer them to the foodshelf their address deams them to.

Our clients are asked to bring with them a current piece of mail and a picture I.D. every time they get service.

What’s the best part of working at the foodshelf?

One of the best parts of working here is seeing how much people appreciate the three-day supply of food for one month. They come in with their story and I feel they really need the relief of our service.

We are fortunate to be in our location, as we receive an abundance of fresh food and bread from Whole Foods, Wedge and Linden Hills co-ops weekly, and this is extra food welcome to all that come in for food.

What’s the most challenging aspect of your work?

When someone starts to cry at my desk it is a challenge to help them calm down and tell everything will work out OK. Keeping our costs down with the rising cost of food is a challenge today.

What are you hopes for the future of the foodshelf?

The hope is to continue to feed people so they can continue to be contributing to our society in a positive manner. We hope we are helping people become the best they can be for their families and their community.  The future is so uncertain for so many people today that we hope that we are one of those constants they can continue to count on.