Friday Food Fair in St. Paul helps fill empty stomachs
Every Friday, dozens of people carrying empty shopping bags and suitcases file into the West 7th Salvation Army in St. Paul. They leave dragging heavy bags filled with fresh produce, bakery items and more.
“It’s awesome – they give you so much, too,” said a regular named Tracy, pulling her shopping basket.
As many 200 people a week rely on the Friday Food Fair. Volunteer Randy Hamilton (pictured) said there’s no requirement for coming. Everyone is welcome, no questions asked.
Janie Rogers lives nearby in a senior building and comes here regularly to help provide food for her neighbors.
“I think it’s just great, it really helps people,” she said. “Some people don’t have much money and they can’t get out, so the [food] I get here really helps them out.”
Dozens of tables are filled with fresh and frozen produce, to deli items, to piles of bakery goods. Staff and volunteers have a system that ensures people last in line receive the same quality of items as those who pick first.
Even more important, they say, is building a rapport with the people they serve.
“We want to be the people that are giving and sharing and caring,” Hamilton said. “It’s not just ‘take your items and move on.’ It’s about serving them with dignity and respect.”
Read this related blog from a staff member who explained her experience volunteering for the program and meeting the people who get help.
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