CHUM reopening West Food Shelf at Our Savior’s Lutheran Church

Updated: July 07, 2020 06:17 PM

CHUM announced that beginning July 13, they are reopening their West Food Shelf location at Our Savior’s Lutheran Church.

CHUM will use the church located on 4831 Grand Ave to distribute food to neighbors in need at the West Food Shelf. CHUM's food shelf is an essential service to those struggling with food insecurity in Duluth and the need seemed to grow recently.

"It's partly because of the underlying high level of poverty rate in Duluth. Food insecurity is an issue and then it became more so during COVID-19," said CHUM executive director Lee Stuart.

Due to COVID-19, the West Food Shelf shut down in March. Scott Van Daele, CHUM’s Director of Distributive Services, said when that happened, clients would come to the downtown Duluth location but said it became challenging for clients since a majority of them don't drive.

"People had to make some incredibly hard choices. We've had people venture out here from out west and weren't able to afford a cab back out west and had to walk or take the bus. They really literally had to disassemble the boxes and take only the items that they were able to carry and leave the other stuff behind, which means that they were going back with less food and had less to eat," said Van Daele.

Now, the church gave them the green light to come back to reopen the West Food Shelf for those clients.

"We're happy that after careful review and working on what kind of social distancing and what kind of safe operation we can do that Our Savior's Lutheran Church is again going to be a food shelf site," said Stuart.

The CHUM West Food Shelf will operate on Monday’s from 10 a.m.- 12 p.m. or until all pre-packed food boxes have been picked up.

To maintain social distancing, CHUM modified how food is distributed through its program by making pre-packed food boxes. Each box includes over 50 pounds of fresh produce, dairy, meat, and bread, along with non-perishable items.

"It'll be drive up or walk up. In the old days, everything was client choice where clients were allowed to come in and select the items that they wanted. Obviously with social distancing that's not possible," said Van Daele.

The onsite pantry is will be a drive-through model. Clients are asked to remain in their car while staff and volunteers load food into the trunk.

For clients who do not drive, they are asked to walk up but keep a six-foot distance when communicating with staff and volunteers.

If a client is not feeling well or are experiencing symptoms associated with COVID-19, a friend, family member, or neighbor can pick up the package on their behalf as well.

"Our goal and CHUM's goal all around is to meet people where they're at and provide them with the services that they need so to be able to go back out west and help those people really is part of CHUM's mission," said Van Daele.

CHUM is expecting to see big numbers in food donations by the end of the year.

"Last year we received and donated almost 400,000 pounds of food and we're on track to do that again," said Stuart.

Van Daele said they prepare and distribute about 120 food boxes a week. 

Van Daele said the model will be in place for the month of July and will be reevaluated monthly by Our Savior’s Lutheran Church.

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