GARRISON -- The shelves are stocked and the refrigerator and freezers are filled with food.
The new Garrison Area Food Shelf has food to give to families in need, but very few people have visited the new community service since it opened in July.
It's a dilemma most food shelves don't usually face, but it doesn't mean there isn't a need in the Garrison area. The food shelf just opened a month ago and board members don't think residents know they are open and ready to help.
They have heard stories about homeless people living in fishhouses -- on Mille Lacs Lake during the winter and on land during the summer months -- and know there are families and individuals who would benefit from the supplemental monthly food allotment.
Gayle Walther (left) and Jan Scattarelli examined cartons of milk they have on hand at the Garrison Area Food Shelf. The women are on the new food shelf's board and also volunteer there. Brainerd Dispatch/Jodie Tweed
The food shelf, located in a back room of the lodge at Pike Point Resort on Highway 169 about one mile south of Garrison, distributed food to four families, or 15 people, on July 27, its first day open. The food shelf is open noon to 4 p.m. Tuesdays. However during the past two distribution days, no one showed up.
Food shelf volunteers who have worked for the past two years to open the food shelf were disappointed at the turnout but realize that food shelf use should increase in time.
"We feel there is a need and we hope people will put it to use because that's what we're here for," said board member Jan Scattarelli.
A food shelf had been previously operated at Garrison Community Alliance Church but use had dropped. The church felt it was time the food shelf was moved where it would better serve the community, said food shelf board members. The Garrison Area Caregivers, a nonprofit organization made up of community service organizations and area churches, have worked for two years to open the community food shelf.
They knocked on many doors of Garrison area businesses trying to find a place to lease or donated space to operate the food shelf. Pike Point Resort donated their backroom for the food shelf but it needed repair work. Sentence to Serve workers did the roofing, while volunteers like Bob Priller built the handicapped accessible ramp and Herb Scattarelli re-sided the food shelf. Other volunteers painted and laid linoleum in the 15 foot-by-18-foot room.
Gayle Walther organized the shelves of food at the new Garrison Area Food Shelf. The food shelf is open noon to 4 p.m. Tuesdays and is located at Pike Point Resort on Highway 169 about a mile south of Garrison. Brainerd Dispatch/Jodie Tweed
The food shelf has a large fridge and two freezers but volunteers said they are trying to buy food sparingly because they don't yet have people visiting the food shelf. They said they're not sure how many people will eventually begin to use the food shelf but other neighboring communities have about 70-140 people visiting their food shelves during any given month.
The Garrison Area Food Shelf serves residents within a 10-mile radius from Garrison and includes residents in Crow Wing, Morrison, Aitkin and Mille Lacs counties.
Mary Erickson, a board member, said the food shelf is hoping to become more than a food shelf. They also have a community fund to help transients in crisis, people who are passing through the community and have car problems or other emergencies in which they may need help. The food shelf will distribute up to 20 pounds of food per qualifying person per month in order to supplement their meals.
The Garrison Area Food Shelf is open from noon to 4 p.m. Tuesdays. To pre-register or if you have an urgent need, call the food shelf at (320) 692-5399.
To make a donation to the non-profit food shelf, donations may be sent to the Garrison Area Food Shelf, P.O. Box 388, Garrison, MN 56450.
JODIE TWEED can be reached at email@example.com or 855-5858.
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