Christian Cupboard Emergency Food Shelf is taking its services on the road. Really. There's a food truck and everything.
CCEFS has started something of a mobile food shelf, and is delivering food to one senior living complex in Oakdale. By the end of the year, Director Greig Metzger said, CCEFS hopes to be delivering food to at least four area senior living complexes.
The "popup" food shelf, as Metzger calls it, is a product of a strategic plan conducted by Christian Cupboard Emergency Food Shelf last year. The plan showed that CCEFS is hitting a fairly large audience—about 6,300 households—but that most of the recipients from the food shelf are families with kids.
The plan also showed that Christian Cupboard Emergency Food Shelf could do a better job at serving the senior citizen demographic. Particularly, Metzger said, the seniors who typically are not able to get out and drive to the food shelf.
"One of the areas we recognized that was where we did a poor job was, we were not connecting with the senior population," he said. "As we thought more about how to connect with seniors, we looked at how a mobile solution could be configured in to the senior populations.
"We also recognized that the last thing they will want to do is get on a bus to go to the food shelf, so we chose to build a popup food shelf."
Christian Cupboard Emergency Food Shelf was able to get a grant from Hunger Solutions, which funded part of the purchase of a new truck for the popup food shelf.
When they set out to take the food shelf to Oak Terrace in Oakdale, the truck is loaded up with rolling racks of dry goods and coolers full of dairy, produce and meat products. The truck comes with a lift gate, so when CCEFS volunteers arrive at the housing unit, they can simply roll everything off of the truck and set up in the Oak Terrace common room.
Right now, CCEFS does its popup food shelf at Oak Terrace about once a month, Metzger said. The program serves about 33 people, and the participants get about 30 pounds of food, which lasts them four to five days.
And with enough volunteers on hand, the whole thing—loading the truck, unloading at Oak Terrace, distributing the food and cleaning up—takes only a couple of hours. Whatever is not taken by the seniors at Oak Terrace is packed up and taken back to CCEFS.
Metzger said there are a couple more locations in Woodbury and Oakdale that may become destinations for the popup food shelf.
"I think the goal is to, by the end of the year, to have four locations so we're doing this once a week," Metzger said. "We definitely envision this to be a program that just continues to expand."
While CCEFS wants to expand the mobile food shelf program, doing so comes with a cost, he added. As such, the food shelf is looking for both financial donors and volunteers to carry out the popup program.
Should a business or organization choose to be a sponsor for the popup or make a volunteer commitment, there may be opportunity to use signage to note the sponsorships.
Metzger hopes supporters will come forward for the popup food shelf program. The senior population in this area, and all of Washington County, continues to grow, he said, so the need is not likely to soon end.
"That's another thing, why we're focused in this area. There will be a continued demand and a growing demand as those on fixed incomes continue to move into the community," he said.
To find out more about services offered by Christian Cupboard Emergency Food Shelf, or about how to donate or volunteer for the popup program, call 651-233-1296, or visit ccefs.org.