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Kenmare Food Pantry changes location...

Jane Kalmbach didn’t know what to expect when she put out the word for volunteers to help move the Kenmare Food Pantry.

9/23/19 (Mon)

Jane Kalmbach didn’t know what to expect when she put out the word for volunteers to help move the Kenmare Food Pantry.

What she got was numerous volunteers from Burke-Divide Electric and Farmers Union Oil Co. in Kenmare who made the move go a lot faster and much smoother than Kalmbach anticipated.

“All these people just showed up,” Kalmbach, the food pantry director said. “We are completely moved out of the old location.”

Food pantry volunteer Tawyne King was just as surprised. She said the volunteers formed a line and handed products to each other similar to how sandbags are placed before a flood.

“They came with trailers, they came with enclosed trailers,” King said. “They even cleaned up and stocked the new shelves.”

The new location is in the former Johnson Tax Service building in downtown Kenmare, behind the West Side Square. The former location was on the north side of Ingerson Manufacturing on U.S. Highway 52.

“I’ve been so fortunate and grateful for the volunteers who have helped through the years,” Kalmbach said. “Jackie Schoemer and Tahnee King are my main assistants currently, but I have a list of others who have offered to help out anytime.”

According to Kalmbach, downtown is a safer location, and there is more space. She said Duane Ingerson provided a great space for the food pantry, but moving into the Johnson Tax Service building felt right.

“This seems like our place,” Kalmbach said. “We don’t have to answer to any boards except our own and we won’t have to worry about snow removal.”

Kalmbach added, there were times during early mornings when she didn’t feel comfortable at the old location. Everything about the downtown location, however, makes her feel better.

It should be easier for the clients as well. Clients will come into the main room where staple items are stocked on one wall and items that aren’t staple food items are on a second wall. There’s also a third wall in which personal care items are located.

Bed sheets were recently added to the personal care item list and Kalmbach said that has been a big hit thanks to a CHS SunPrairie donation that will also allow the purchase of blankets for the personal care item shelf.

And, instead of pre-packing the items, the clients can bag items themselves.

“We put out certain items, they choose and they seem to enjoy it,” Kalmbach said. “We started doing that at the old pantry.”

King noted the new pantry has a side entrance, which will be very beneficial when it comes time to unload freight, but can also be used by the clients.

“If it bothers anybody, they can come to the side door and let us know,” King said. “It’s nice to be downtown because it will be easier for them to get here.”

Kalbach acknowledged there are new neighbors, most notably the Kenmare Senior Center right across the street. She asks that people allow her clients, that numbers more than 30 families, to have some dignity.

King added people on the street have no idea what a family’s situation might be without actually knowing and she requests people refrain from judging for that reason.

In addition to the main room, there’s a room, where the side door is located, where refrigerators, freezers and additional storage are located. Both Kalmbach and King say unloading freight and immediately getting it into coolers is going to be much more efficient.

Along with refrigeration and extra storage, Kalmbach said the pantry can accept fresh produce and some canned goods at her and King’s discretion.

“If they want to drop something off, it’s a great location,” she said. “We’ve had cucumbers and other items and they’ve been really popular.”

Another room houses the items that are used for the school’s backpack program, an idea that allows Kalmbach and volunteers to fill packpacks with items, which are in turn, taken to the school and discreetly placed into the lockers of students who need food for a weekend.

The backpack program now has 49 students and Kalmbach invited parents of those children getting backpacks to come to the pantry.

“I don’t know who’s in it,” she said of the program. “But, it helps some 54 families. They should come to the pantry. All they have to do is fill out a client intake form.”

King added the form can actually be filled out on the monthly distribution day.

Eligibility is based on income and size of family, thus a family would be allowed to earn more than a single individual or couple and still be eligible.

Distribution is always on the second Monday of the month and the next time will be Oct. 14. November distribution will take place on Tuesday, Nov. 12 since Veterans Day is on the second Monday and Kenmare Transit doesn’t run on holidays.

The bulk of the food comes from the Great Plains Food Bank in Fargo, but Kalmbach said lately the local churches have really stepped up and the Bible schools have made some donations. Numerous private individuals have made monetary donations.

“Fortunately, a lot of people want to donate,” Kalmbach said. “People really want to help.”

And, as Christmas approaches, the Canadian Pacific Holiday Train usually makes a donation to the food pantry and people who come to see the artists, normally drop off non-perishable items.

CP Rail’s website indicates the artists and communities it stops this year will be unveiled in mid October... Read EVERY WORD on EVERY PAGE of The Kenmare News by subscribing--online or in print!