Dorothy Day Food Pantry

1308 Main Ave. in Moorhead; 218-284-8895

Program

The food pantry provides food baskets to low-income families and individuals from both Cass and Clay counties.  Food baskets are distributed Monday and Wednesday from 6:30pm - 7:45pm and Tuesdays and Thursdays from 1pm - 2:45pm; no appointments are necessary.  We are now offering Daily Bread (only bread and produce given out) on Friday from 9:45am - 11am.  Clients can come once per month to obtain a food basket, and each person receives an average of 25 pounds of food which typically lasts for 2-3 days.  Everyone must present identification in order to receive a food basket.  Since its inception, food pantry utilization has steadily increased.

75% of the food at our food pantry is donated, while only 25% is purchased.  We are a member agency of the Great Plains Food Bank, so we are able to obtain food from them at a reduced cost.  We receive donated food through the Daily Bread program which is also part of the Great Plains Food Bank.  This program allows us to receive food from local grocery stores, hotels, and restaurants every week free of charge; food items include: bread and sweets, dairy products, and fresh produce.  In addition, we receive USDA commodities through Great Plains Food Bank which include donated food items, such as: meat, peanut butter, juice, and tuna.  Other donated food comes from food drives (i.e. Postal Carriers Drive, Fill the Dome, Boy Scouts, and the Homeless and Hungry Project), organizations and companies, civic groups, and individuals.  Whether the food is purchased or donated, we are very grateful for the resources that we have in this community.

Remodeling and Choice Model

In April 2009, our remodeling project was completed.  With need dramatically increasing each year, remodeling our facilities was necessary in order to accommodate the increasing utilization by making the building accessible, increasing space for parking, enlarging the reception area, adding more space for food storage, and transitioning into the Choice Model of food distribution.  People can now “shop” for their own food.

We are the only food pantry in our area operating under the Choice Model.  We implemented the “Rainbow of Choice” method based on Food Pyramid guidelines.  With this method, families are given a colored grocery list, where different colors represent different family sizes.  The main food categories are color coded in line with the grocery lists, and symbols represent the number of that food that a client can choose based on their family size.  For example, a family of two, grocery list colored pink, can choose two items from the vegetable section, which they can easily determine by finding the pink section on the vegetable sign and see two symbols representing the amount they can choose.  This “rainbow” method using symbols is very user friendly and easy to understand, especially for those families who do not speak English.  Ultimately, this method stresses the importance of choice for healthy eating and is conducive to the diverse populations that we serve.

The Choice Model of food distribution is beneficial for both the clients we serve and us as the agency.  This method is accommodating to clients with dietary restrictions due to medical concerns and food allergies and unique ethnic tastes.  In addition, it is a much more dignified method of receiving food because allowing them to make healthy food choices empowers them.  What is more, this method is accommodating to us as an agency because it reduces waste from clients disposing of foods that they do not need or want while also addressing the specific needs of the clients we serve.  This is an innovative way to serve our neighbors and community members in need.

Collaborations

The food pantry services are also being enhanced by the implementation of exciting new services.  First, a registered dietician from the Minnesota Extension Service now comes to the pantry every other week to provide nutrition education to interested persons.  She also distributes healthy recipes that utilize food items being distributed at the pantry.  Next, we are partnering with MN Rural CEP to allow people in our community who are seeking employment to work at the food pantry to gain skills necessary to advance in the workforce.  These have been great additions to our program.

Community support is crucial to the maintenance of our program.  We work with organizations like the Great Plains Food Bank, Hunger Solutions MN, the United Way, and the Fargo-Moorhead Chamber of Commerce to provide comprehensive services to the hungry of this area.  Furthermore, we could not function without the 1200+ volunteers that dedicate their time to our program; these folks represent all sectors of our great community, including: schools and colleges, churches, businesses and organizations, civic groups, and families and individuals.  We are very grateful to our faithful donors, volunteers, and supporters!

Recognition

The Dorothy Day Food Pantry has met the necessary standards set by Hunger Solutions Minnesota (HSM), a state-wide hunger organization, to be considered a “Blue Ribbon Food Pantry.”  The concept behind the Blue Ribbon Food Pantry Initiative was to produce an evaluative tool that gives recognition to food pantries that are "raising the bar" and encourage others to increase their level of service.  The evaluative tool focuses on two aspects relevant to food pantries.  First, what level of service does the food pantry currently provide to clients?  Examples of evaluation criteria include: hours of operation, client choice, and accessibility.  Second, what is happening at the food pantry to ensure that these services will continue to be offered in the future?  Examples of evaluation include: financial management, administration, use of volunteers, board of directors involvement, and strategic planning.  The Dorothy Day Food Pantry takes great pride in serving the hungry of the Fargo-Moorhead community and is honored to have received Blue Ribbon recognition.