Ruby’s Pantry adds site in Sherburn

GETTING READY — Siblings Hayden and Alaina O’Conner help label packages of cookies as other volunteers prepare in the background for a Ruby’s Pantry distribution Monday at the Regional Worship Center in Sherburn. The pantry will continue to be held on the third Monday of every month, with doors opening at 5 p.m. and food share distribution from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. The Regional Worship Center is located at 2 Crossroads Drive, Sherburn.

SHERBURN — Ruby’s Pop-up Pantry, a faith-based organization meant to help fight hunger, has come to western Martin County.

On Monday, the Regional Worship Center in Sherburn hosted its first Ruby’s Pantry distribution event. Becky Tish, site coordinator for Ruby’s Pantry, explained how the partnership with the church came about.

“I’ve been going to Ruby’s Pantry with my family for a couple of years,” she shared. “I’ve gone to both Jackson and East Chain, and I’ve always thought it was a great idea and would have loved for our church to do it. When I heard Jackson had closed, I contacted our pastor and got the ball rolling.

“We love the ministry,” she said. “It helps people right where they’re at.”

According to information from Ruby’s Pantry, the organization is in its 16th year of serving rural communities in Minnesota and Wisconsin with donated overstocked food. It has grown to over 11,000 volunteers who serve 200,000 families and distribute 17.5 million pounds of food each year to 76 different Pop-up Pantry locations.

“Ruby’s Pantry gets donations from various suppliers, and they have a warehouse that they store it in,” Tish said. “The sites they deliver to are church-based, and they line up about 60 to 70 volunteers to run a site.”

Ruby’s Pantry funds its operation on $18 of the $20 per food share donation it receives. The other $2 stays with the local sponsoring church to be used to assist families in their own community with things like food, gas cards, utilities and other needs.

There are no income or residency guidelines to attend a Ruby’s Pop-Up Pantry. Ruby’s receives no state or federal funding. It is funded primarily by the $20 donation per participant. Tish did note that the $20 must be in cash, as checks are not accepted. Guests bring two large boxes or baskets to collect their food share. Each guest receives an abundance of food.

“The food ranges from things like frozen chicken, chicken breasts and chicken sausage to things like cereal, bread, milk and condiments,” Tish said. “So it’s necessities and then some fun stuff that some people might not be able to afford otherwise. Then there’s paper products like toilet paper and paper towels.

“Then people go through a line and volunteers place items in their basket and it’s pushed out the door and then people can drive up and pick it up.”

Tish said that for the first event, she estimated around 90 people had volunteered to help.

“I think it normally takes a little longer to organize the Pantry, but it just feels like God is orchestrating this,” she said. “It was about March when we started thinking about it, and things keep falling into place.”

The pantry will continue to be held the third Monday of every month, with doors opening at 5 p.m. and food share distribution from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.

The Regional Worship Center is located at 2 Crossroads Drive, Sherburn.

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