Watonwan County Food Shelf has more to offer the community

Sarah Bunich
St. James Plaindealer

On Thursday, July 29 the Watonwan County Food Shelf held an open house for the community to come and tour the new building.

Being able to show the community the new food shelf is the end of a moving and remodeling process that started when they purchased, with help from the Minnesota Food Fund COVID grant, the new building back on December 28, 2020. First job the food shelf needed to get done was cleaning out the bowling equipment from the building. They worked with NPS Auctions out of Nicollet to do an online auction in late January to early February. With everything gone it was time to start demolition.

"The last weekend in February, we put an all-call out for volunteers to come and help us complete the demolition process of the building," Said Katherine Petty. "Starting the first week in March the remodeling process began."

On Friday April 16 volunteers were called for again to help move the food shelf into the new building. They were able to open the doors of the new location on April 28, 2021. After only three and a half months from the time the property was purchased

Having the new location the food shelf went from a 600 square feet location to an 6,000 square feet location. At the old location Petty said they could not offer much of a selection for meats and fresh produce. Not having enough space to store food meant they had to decline donations sometimes because they didn't have the room for it. The new location offers more storage a long with new freezers and coolers that they were able to purchase with the grant. Now the food shelf will be able to accept every donation they receive.

Since the new location has opened the food shelf has been getting a lot of compliments and comments from the community about how it looks and feels to them.

"People can't believe what we have done with the building. We have heard from many people that they feel like they are at a grocery store shopping," said Petty. "That was one of our goals, to make people feel comfortable in the new location. We wanted it to be bright and welcoming."

For right now the food shelf does not have anymore big plans for the future. They do hope to be able to offer more open hours for people to come in.