Community

It takes a village to offer Ruby’s Pantry

Rhonda Silence


It seems that Ruby’s Pantry volunteers have a good time, whether distributing food or preparing and serving food! Some of the kitchen crew at the May 24 anniversary celebration were (L-R) Jane Shinners, Bob Padzieski, Ginny Padzieski, Dan Riddle, Melodee Riddle, Barb Spaulding, Larry Spaulding, Georgene Daubanton. 
Staff photos/Rhonda Silence It seems that Ruby’s Pantry volunteers have a good time, whether distributing food or preparing and serving food! Some of the kitchen crew at the May 24 anniversary celebration were (L-R) Jane Shinners, Bob Padzieski, Ginny Padzieski, Dan Riddle, Melodee Riddle, Barb Spaulding, Larry Spaulding, Georgene Daubanton. Staff photos/Rhonda Silence It takes many volunteers to operate Ruby’s Pantry in Cook County. On May 24 those volunteers were recognized with an anniversary dinner at Bethlehem Lutheran Church. Everyone agreed it is hard to believe that it has been a year since the first Ruby’s Pantry was held at School District 166 on May 14, 2015.

After a wonderful dinner funded by a donor “who appreciates all that the volunteers do for the community,” Barb Spaulding gave a brief presentation, remembering the planning stages of bringing Ruby’s Pantry to Cook County, the difficulty of finding a location big enough and setting up for distribution.


Above: Many of the people who volunteered with Ruby’s Pantry gathered to enjoy the dinner and a brief presentation. Left: Introduced at the dinner was a new initiative, Recycling for Ruby’s. This new offering will benefit the environment and Ruby’s Pantry. Above: Many of the people who volunteered with Ruby’s Pantry gathered to enjoy the dinner and a brief presentation. Left: Introduced at the dinner was a new initiative, Recycling for Ruby’s. This new offering will benefit the environment and Ruby’s Pantry. Spaulding noted how many community members and organizations stepped up—and continue to do so. “For start up money to purchase supplies like zip lock bags, gloves, hairnets, carts, etc., we were lucky to get money from North Shore Credit Union, an anonymous donor from the community, and Thrivent Financial.”

Spaulding said Edwin E. Thoreson, Inc. volunteers its skid steer to get the pallets of food off the semi-truck every month, rain, sleet, or snow. “Every month we use the pallet jack from the school and one from the recycling center to move the food around in the school,” she said.

In addition, Ruby’s Pantry receives a donation from others to provide shares to those unable to pay. Donations to buy “shares” of food at Ruby’s have been received anonymously in the mail and Blue Water Café provides six shares each month to people who Cook County Public Health have identified as having a particularly rough month.

And of course, none of the food distribution events would be possible without the community volunteers. Spaulding said the dinner was just a small way to say thank you to everyone for their hard work.

After the dinner, Spaulding was happy to share more information about Ruby’s Pantry with the Cook County News-Herald. She explained that Cook County gets part of the proceeds, with 10 percent of proceeds staying in the community.

The proceeds have been used to pay $400 to School District 166 and to replenish the supplies needed to conduct the food distributions.

In addition, Ruby’s has assisted two families in the community that had house fires; made financial donations to the Snacks & Packs program; and given gift certificates and grocery gift cards at Christmas time.

If there is extra food, that too, goes to the community. When monthly distributions are over, several organizations are invited to go through the line to take food for their programs. Benefitting groups are the Cook County Food Shelf, Grand Portage Elder Nutrition Program, Grand Portage Explorer’s Club, Snacks & Packs in both Grand Marais and Grand Portage, Adventurous Christians and youth groups from area churches.

“It’s good to know that whatever food we have leftover does still get used by people who need it,” said Spaulding.

Finally at the volunteer appreciation dinner, a new program was introduced, “Recycle for Ruby’s.” Watch for more details on this recycling program that will benefit the environment and Ruby’s Pantry. For more information on the recycling program, contact Amber Pfeil at (218) 475-2115.

What started as a mission to deliver toys to Mexico in a pick up truck has evolved to two Ruby’s Pantry warehouses in North Branch, Minnesota and one in Waupaca, Wisconsin. Cook County Ruby’s Pantry is one of 58 distribution sites served by the North Branch location. There are now 14 semi-tractors and 20 refrigerated trucks on the road for Ruby’s Pantry. Cook County alone, in the last year has moved 337,000 pounds of food—over 113 tons! All food that would have ended up in landfills.

Cook County Ruby’s Pantry distribution is the second Tuesday of each month from 5:00 - 6:30 p.m. at School District 166.


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