A lot has changed in the year since the pandemic arrived in Minnesota. But one thing has not; the presence of Kate and Mary (pictured) in the Shelf of Hope food shelf at the House of Charity Food Centre. They spend hours every week tirelessly organizing supplies, packing bags of food and caring for our neighbors in need.
Two years ago, Shelf of Hope moved from Gethsemane Church to House of Charity and Kate and Mary moved with it. Even when no one else came, they were here. Arriving at the Food Centre early in the morning to unload the food ordered for the food shelf and spending long hours preparing for the Wednesday distribution. Standing in the open door of the Food Centre, even in the midst of February’s sub-zero temperatures, handing out bags full of ready-to-eat and fresh nutritious supplies to those who came, seeking help, no questions asked.
To ensure safe operations amid the pandemic, the Food Centre switched to boxed meals and the Food Shelf switched to providing pre-packed bags of shelf-stable food. Kate said that was tough, not being able to welcome people inside this winter, and added, “That’s why people need to keep wearing their masks, so we can move back inside and these people can get the food they need and be safe doing it.”
Even in the midst of hard work and cold winters, Kate and Mary have fun. They laugh and joke and find humor in the fact that the days that toilet paper arrives on the truck is their favorite day. Food, obviously, is in high demand, with at least 70 individuals or families stopping by each Wednesday. But the days when hygiene supplies or toilet paper and laundry detergent are available are the busy days.
Last March, when so many things shut down for good, the food shelf took only a short break. After just a few weeks, Mary came back and got it started again, all alone. But Kate just couldn’t stay away. When asked why they keep coming back, despite the risks, this is what Kate shared:
“For me, it’s a matter of trying, just in some small way, to alleviate the inequities in our society, in our country. And if anybody has any doubt about the existence of those inequities, they can come spend a couple of day at the food shelf. Even though it’s not a systemic change, it’s a bandaid, and, you know, someone is hungry, it’s an important bandaid and I wish more people could see the situation that a lot of Americans are living in. I think, it might make people a little bit more generous toward their fellow citizens.”
If you’d like to join Kate and Mary at the food shelf, you can visit houseofcharity.org/volunteer