Plenty on the menu in Ruby’s Pantry

MARSHALL – Sometimes after the monthly bills are paid there isn’t much money left over for groceries. Ruby’s Pantry wants to help meet that gap.

The food distribution venture is a partnership between Hunger Free Minnesota and Western Community Action. WCA is supporting local churches which are providing volunteers to run the program.

Margaret Palan, community resource specialist for WCA, said the service is open to anyone who eats. For a $15 cash donation, people receive a laundry basket full of food – provided they bring their own basket, tote or box.

A rectangular laundry basket would be a good size, said Palan.

“The box would be filled with dairy, produce, meat – a variety of items,” she said. “It’s different each month.”

People with large families may want to buy two shares for $30, Palan said.

The program, which is sponsored by Holy Redeemer Church, takes place from 4:30-6 p.m. the first Thursday of every month starting Oct. 3. The food will be distributed at the National Guard Armory in Marshall.

“We needed a large place with no stairs,” said Palan. “They’ve been great to work with.”

Registration starts at 4 p.m. and is easy and quick, Palan said. It involves signing your name, giving your address, handing over $15 and receiving a number. There are no income guidelines or verifications needed.

Ruby’s Pantry is a community outreach of Home and Away Ministries, Inc. based out of North Branch. It serves most of the counties in northern Minnesota and northern Wisconsin. Ruby’s Pantry is primarily supported by the participants at the food distributions and also receives gifts from individuals, civic organizations, churches and corporate and foundation grants, according to its website,

In 2012 it distributed more than 9,000,000 pounds of food primarily in rural communities in northern Minnesota and Wisconsin. More than 10,000 families participate each month at 38 distribution sites.

“They are excited to bring it here,” said Palan. “Marshall will be its 43rd site.”

Palan said any food left over after the Ruby’s Pantry distribution would get parceled out to area food shelves.

WCA received a grant to administer various nutrition programs.

“WCA received a Hunger Free Minnesota grant this year to work in our five-county service area in filling in the missing meals gap,” Palan said. “Ruby’s Pantry is one of the projects of this grant that we are working with and partnering with Hunger Free Minnesota.”

WCA supports the efforts of the Marshall Area Ministerial Association which is helping line up volunteers. About 50 volunteers are needed each month to set up, distribute the food, help carry groceries and clean up, Palan said.

“The Ministerial Association is excited by this opportunity for volunteers to be involved,” Palan said. “One pastor said he would bring 10 every month.”

Palan said college students can volunteer also.

“We never have a problem getting a volunteer,” she said.

To volunteer, e-mail the Rev. Paul Wolf at or Palan at

For questions about Ruby’s Pantry, call Palan or Lori Lerohl at 537-1416.