December 22, 2016
Filed under Features, Top Stories
One out of every seven people in the U.S. relies on food banks in order to feed themselves and their families. The Ralph Reeder Food Shelf, located in New Brighton, is an organization that works to help those who rely on food banks.
Poverty within the Mounds View school district is a hidden issue and Ralph Reeder Food Shelf has been striving to fight this issue since it first opened back in the ‘80s. “The mission of the Ralph Reeder Food Shelf is to provide emergency and supplemental food assistance and also to provide people with additional resources and empower them so they can take steps towards self sufficiency,” said Lisa Baker, program supervisor.
Ralph Reeder Food Shelf, named after a former superintendent of the Mounds View school district, Ralph Reeder, is a non-profit organization owned by Mounds View schools. The food shelf provides food and services to about 17,000 individuals in the district each year, and an average of 560 households visit the food shelf each month. “Originally the food shelf was put together not just in response to teachers and social workers seeing kids coming into school hungry, knowing that food insecurity was a problem, but it was also put together as a vehicle for service learning, a place where Mounds View students could come and volunteer and learn about hunger,” said Baker.
The food shelf works to give each person who visits them five to seven days worth of nutritionally balanced food. This includes meat and milk as well as personal hygiene items and cleaning supplies.
The food shelf not only provides food to people in need, but it also helps people get connected to other resources to help them apply for health insurance and food stamps. “There’s tons of families every year that have not had insurance for their kids or themselves that we are able to help get on that which is going to help them keep healthy and keep out of pocket cost down,” said Baker.
The Mounds View community is the number one provider of donations for the food shelf. However, the food shelf also gets food from Second Harvest Heartland, a large food bank, and many other grocery stores.
The clientele mainly includes low income residents living within the boundaries of the Mounds View Public School District as well as the counties of Ramsey County and St. Anthony. “We’re not just a food shelf in general in terms of we’re not just giving out food, we are connecting people to other resources,” said Baker.
The sense of community has helped to make Ralph Reeder one of the main food shelves in the area. “I’d like people to know that the need here in the suburbs is very real. Poverty is actually increasing at a very fast rate out here in the suburbs,” said Baker.