Pine River Area Food Shelf celebrates 40 years of service

The food shelf has grown over the years.

We are part of The Trust Project.

PINE RIVER — Because you care, the Pine River Area Food Shelf has had the privilege of serving the Backus and Pine River area communities for 40 years. 

Because you saw a need for food support and donated funds to provide groceries to hungry families, our neighbors were uplifted.

Because you understand the need continues to exist, your ongoing donations help new households feed healthy choices to their families.

Food shelf dairy case.jpg
The Pine River Area Food Shelf has a dairy case to keep nutritious perishables cool.

In 1982, Marie Smith, of the First Lutheran Church of Pine River, saw a need among parishioners for food support and stocked nonperishables under the stairway. 

Marie then organized other churches to support the program with governance, funding and volunteers and opened the PRAFS twice a week. 


Eventually, the PRAFS outgrew its space and, after strategic planning, the Pine River-Backus Family Center took over the program management and it was moved to a much larger space at the family center.

food shelf fresh produce.jpg
Fresh produce has become more available at the Pine River Area Food Shelf.

PRAFS became a SuperShelf in Minnesota (superior rating) and adopted their standards of guiding self-shopping, having various choices in each food group and dietary guidelines allowing a splendid shopping experience in a brightly colored market place with clear signage.

The neighbor shopping is the best one to know what their family will eat. Only thing missing is the cash register! 

food shelf fruits and veggies.jpg
Boxed and canned goods are abundant at the Pine River Area Food Shelf but offerings there have grown over the years.


PRAFS's first value is to have healthy food choices for our neighbors. PRAFS is aware of the correlation between better, healthy eating and the impact to both physical and mental health. 

The PRAFS works hard to find new resources for fresh produce. Yes, purchasing this way does raise the costs, but isn’t our health and our neighbors’ worth it?  

When Minnesota ranks all the counties on an equity scale (food costs, availability, wages, housing, etc.), Cass County continually ranks among the lowest five in the state.

If there was a state rating for friendliest and most supportive communities, I think we’d take first place. 


PRAFS has continued to serve all these years because we have donors who believe neighbors should help neighbors and still have the smalltown belief that we can take care of our own.  

Thank you to all the donors - private, groups, churches - who partner with us to feed families. This need isn’t going away. More new families come each week. It is difficult to walk through the doors for the first time, but we understand ‘the times, they are a changing."

Hunger Solutions has a Open Your Heart campaign in July to raise funds for food shelves with their matching funds. If you are able to help, please send donations to Pine River Area Food Shelf at P.O. Box 1, Pine River, MN 56474.

Questions? Call us at 218-587-4292.

Kathleen Stephan is a volunteer at the Pine River-Backus Family Center and Pine River Area Food Shelf.

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