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Donations lead to food shelf improvements

Two recent donations have altered the way the Lakes Area Food Shelf in Pequot Lakes does business. The donations - one from the Gesner-Johnson Family Foundation in Minneapolis and one from the Spicola Family Foundation in Minnetonka - have allowe...

Lakes Area Food Shelf's board president Gary Hasse and manager Carey Rasinski have shown their gratitude for donations that led to improvements in the building. Photo by Dan Determan
Lakes Area Food Shelf's board president Gary Hasse and manager Carey Rasinski have shown their gratitude for donations that led to improvements in the building. Photo by Dan Determan

Two recent donations have altered the way the Lakes Area Food Shelf in Pequot Lakes does business.

The donations - one from the Gesner-Johnson Family Foundation in Minneapolis and one from the Spicola Family Foundation in Minnetonka - have allowed the food shelf to make a number of improvements and additions to the building.

The food shelf now has a 9-foot-by-26-foot addition on the back of the building, which houses its brand new 8-foot-by-8-foot walk-in freezer. The stipulation of these donations is that they could not be used simply to pay bills or buy food, but rather to improve the food shelf as a whole. The improvements were completed in November.

"The generosity is unbelievable," food shelf manager Carey Rasinski said. "The buying power we now have ... rather than buying 10 cases of chicken, I can now buy 20 because I have the extra space to store it. We were only able to buy so much, and at the end of the month, our old freezer would be empty. Now, we have an extra month in there so hopefully that will never happen."

The food shelf - which gave more than 238,000 pounds of food to roughly 320 families in the area in 2014 - also added a second door to enter the building and relegated the previous door as an exit-only door. It also added nearly 20 feet of counter space with plenty of storage space underneath to the front room of the building, allowing those picking up food to do so in an approach similar to an assembly line.

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"Before, they would come in the door, make a crowd and get all jammed up," board president Gary Hasse said. "Now they come in (the "enter" door), get their boxes and go out. It has really, really helped. The extra space up front really expedites our volunteer work."

Because of the additional storage space, the food shelf is now able to provide other necessities that are not food such as diapers, deodorant and toothpaste.

The Lakes Area Food Shelf is open from 9 a.m. to noon Tuesdays and Thursdays and is located just south of Grace United Methodist Church in Pequot Lakes on Highway 371.

Dan Determan has been a reporter for the Echo Journal since 2014, primarily covering sports at Pequot Lakes and Pine River-Backus
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