Ellendale food shelf available for any who need it

Published 9:00 am Saturday, February 23, 2019

Since 2009, the Ellendale Area Food Shelf has been helping families and individuals in need. The shelf is open every week from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. Thursdays and stocks many necessities, including general groceries, dairy, meats and special meals during the holidays.

Starting as a small room in the back of United Methodist Church in Ellendale, the food shelf has grown over the years to where it has now taken over the old library room.

Cynthia Nelson, a volunteer with the food shelf, said she has volunteered for the shelf ever since its beginning. Nelson said she loves to do her part for the food shelf, and her favorite part is knowing she’s helping people who might be less fortunate get through their week a little easier.

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“I don’t think there’s any part of what I do that’s hard,” Nelson said. “I can’t say that anything is hard because I know how worthwhile it is. We serve a lot of families, not only adults, but young children as well.”

Nelson said there are at least three people who volunteer on a consistent basis each week when the shelf is open, but there are oftentimes more. She said the sign-up sheets to volunteer always fill up fast with more people asking how they can help.

“The community support that we have is great,” she said. “That is why we are able to have something like this. There’s people that come and say this is the best one around. We have people that come from all over the area, but no matter where they come from we won’t turn them away.”

The food shelf averages 25 to 30 families each week and is located in the old library room at the United Methodist Church. – Tyler Julson/Albert Lea Tribune

The food is provided through Channel One Food Bank and is stocked and rotated by the volunteers. Each food item is weighed in before it is put on the shelf and weighed out when being taken. The process can take a while, but Nelson said knowing she’s helping makes everything worth it.

On average, Nelson said the food shelf services around 25 to 30 families every week. She thinks the idea that there’s a bad image of being at a food shelf prevents more people from showing up.

“Everybody needs support at some time or another,” Nelson said. “I don’t care who you are, where you’re from or where you’re headed, it’s nice to know there’s help out there when you need it.

“There are so many people that are ashamed to ask, but if they just know that we’re here for them. That’s why we have it — we have it so we can give it away. We want people who need it to come and take it. It’s great for our community to have a service like this because not every community has it.”

By the Numbers

25 to 30 – Families the food shelf serves each week

2009 – Year the food shelf started

3+ – Volunteers who show up on a weekly basis to help with the food shelf



About Tyler Julson

Tyler Julson covers sports for the Albert Lea Tribune.

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