MOUND — The Westonka Food Shelf has been operating in the community for 50 years this week, providing healthy food for individuals and families who need it.
The food shelf has been a staple for the community, Food Shelf Director Shelly Sir and Dale Kurschner, the food shelf’s media relations representative, said. It serves the cities of Mound, Minnetrista, Navarre, Spring Park, St. Bonifacius, Shorewood and parts of Orono and Wayzata.
The food shelf was originally put together by several churches in the area.
“This all started when churches started talking and they said ‘we have a food shelf’ and ‘we do too’ and so they combined,” Kurschner said.
The food shelf is still run out of a church, with space donated by Our Lady of the Lake Church, 2385 Commerce Blvd., in Mound.
The food shelf does not receive any government funding. It relies on donations from individuals and its partners, including Jubilee Foods and Lunds & Byerlys. Six times a week, volunteers from the food shelf will visit the grocery stores for what are called food rescues — they take unsellable food and bring it to the food shelf instead, giving those who use the food shelf the option of fresh produce.
Kurschner says one of the great things the food shelf has done over the last 50 years is inform people in the Lake Minnetonka area about poverty in the area.
“I think we stereotype the area because of the homes on Lake Minnetonka, but you only really have to go 1 mile or half-mile to find people who are in need,” Kurschner said.
The Westonka Food shelf served 709 families or 1,729 unique patrons last year providing people in the community with 602,119 pounds of food, according to its annual report.
It’s all run by volunteers
The nonprofit is entirely volunteer-run — there are no employees, even Sir is a volunteer. Kurschner says that’s pretty unique for a food shelf.
Sir, who says she’s one of the longest-serving volunteers having been at the food shelf for around 15 years and serving as director for the last five to six years, has seen some great relationships form between the volunteers and food shelf patrons.
“Volunteers tend to work the same shifts and patrons tend to come in at the same time every week, so you start to build those relationships,” Sir said.
Kurschner finds the organization very uplifting to be part of, for its mission and all the good it has done, and because of all the volunteer commitment.
“In today’s world, it’s nice to know there’s an organization like this with over 100 volunteers doing good work,” Kurschner said.
The food shelf held a 50th anniversary celebration on Wednesday, May 22, with help from local businesses, including State Fair mini-donuts, the Minnetonka Drive-In and a local marching band.
The party was not a fundraiser, according to Sir, just a celebration for donors, patrons and the community for a great 50 years.