By Kristen Miller
Thanks to the combined efforts of a group of local contributors and the Minnesota Disaster Relief organization, the Cokato Area Food Shelf will soon be moving into its own building.
The food shelf, currently located in the basement of Elim Mission Church, is gearing up to move across the street to 395 Broadway South.
Although they never expressed moving to a different location prior to the offer, Russ Irvin, food shelf coordinator, is looking forward to the move.
Once renovated, the 1,300-square-foot building on the corner of Broadway and Fourth Street will serve a dual purpose.
Not only will it be an accessible location for the food shelf, but it will also be a base for Minnesota Disaster Relief Inc. The majority of the space will be used for the food shelf.
Al Nagel, director of the local non-profit volunteer service organization, says it will be great for there to be a central donation drop-off location and equipment storage facility.
“It will also be very helpful to have a site to use as a staging area,” Nagel said. This will be helpful when loading up equipment and volunteers for relief work trips.
With the food shelf currently in the lower level of Elim Mission Church, Irvin is looking forward to having it on a main level for easier accessibility for the users, as well as loading and unloading of food.
Space has been an issue, especially for packing, according to Irvin.
“We’ve gotten along with what we have, but it will be a great advantage,” he said.
Since the renovation will depend solely on volunteer work and donations, the exact move-in date will be dependent on the generosity of others.
“Without [donations], we can’t do anything,” Irvin said.
The building will need quite a bit of work before it will be ready including insulation, Sheetrock, a new heating system, a new roof, and more.
“We’ve got a lot of work to do,” Nagel said.
Nagel is encouraging individuals, churches, and civic groups to get involved and help renovate and stock the shelves with food.
Irvin and Nagel are hoping to begin the renovation process in a few weeks. They would like to have the job completed and both entities moved in by early summer.
The food shelf is also looking for donated working refrigerators and freezers to allow them to supply some meats and other perishable items, according to Irvin.
“Giving the community, I’m pretty confident [donations] will come,” Nagel said.
“We’ve been pretty blessed with donations,” he added.
Even once the building is ready, donations will be needed to help pay the bills, such as electricity and property taxes, according to Nagel.
The two organizations will be asking for volunteers once the renovation begins. Check out the Enterprise-Dispatch for dates and times.
To sign-up to be a volunteer for the renovation process or to donate items, call Irvin at (320) 420-3333.
There is also an account setup at State Bank of Cokato for this project. Checks may be written to Minnesota Disaster Relief. Donations for this project can also be sent to 17965 718th Ave., Dassel, MN 55325.