Ruby's Pantry moves to the Sanford Center

BEMIDJI--Bemidji's chapter of the Ruby's Pantry food distribution program is entering its fourth month of operation and this time it will be held at a new location.


BEMIDJI-Bemidji's chapter of the Ruby's Pantry food distribution program is entering its fourth month of operation and this time it will be held at a new location.

The next food distribution, scheduled for Wednesday, Dec. 20, will take place at the Sanford Center.

According to Dave Larson, a Ruby's Pantry coordinator, the decision was made to increase the amount of space to handle the distribution operation.



Originally, the Bemidji Ruby's Pantry was held at Mt. Zion Church. Starting in August, the distribution has taken place every third Wednesday on a monthly basis.

Registration for the distribution starts at 4:30 p.m. and clients are able to get food from 5 to 6:30 p.m.

"People come in and if they're repeat clients we can just look them up and they will already be registered," Larson said. "Registration does start at 4:30, but we'll probably open up the gate around 3:30 or 3, depending on how many people are waiting outside, we don't want them to have to stand out there."

Clients looking to register pay $20 and receive between $100 and $130 worth of groceries per household. Ruby's Pantry is held on the third Wednesday of the month.

"We get a semi-truck load of food and that will accommodate 400 households. On a monthly basis, we've had anywhere from 375 households all the way to 400," Larson said. "I believe the second month we actually had to turn away 15 or 20 people because we didn't have enough food."

Bemidji is one of 65 Ruby's Pantry locations distributing food to communities across Minnesota and Wisconsin. The nonprofit food ministry was founded in 2003 and is based in North Branch, Minn. The program operates with food donations, including 14 million pounds worth in 2015.

"It's not based on economic status of any kind," Larson said. "We tell them, 'if you eat food and have any responsibility to put food on the table for you or your family, you qualify.' It's open to anyone."

To make the operation a success, Larson also said volunteer work is essential. Last month, Larson said Ruby's Pantry had about 80 volunteers and, in total, 135 people have registered for volunteer work.


"Some of them can come for the entire time and others just come in for an hour or so. We do need a number in the neighborhood of about 80, though, to make this thing function," Larson said. "It all begins with unloading the truck, which usually takes place from either 1 to 2 p.m. or 2 to 3 p.m."

Those coming to Ruby's Pantry are asked to enter at the Sanford Center's Door 4. The Sanford Center is located at 1111 Event Center Dr., NE.

Larson said those interested are also asked to bring their own boxes or laundry baskets to load the food. For more information visit or email .

What To Read Next
Get Local