Gethsemane UMC, other area churches keep food shelf going strong

October 22, 2013

Church: Lino Lakes Community Church

District: Big Waters

Submitted by: Rev. Diane C. Olson

The Centennial Community Food Shelf began in the 1950s as a way to recognize the need for food in the communities of East Blaine, Lexington, Circle Pines, Lino Lakes, and Centerville. Since then, it has continued to thrive and grow thanks to an ecumenical group of area churches that keep it going, including Gethsemane United Methodist Church in Lino Lakes. For the many people it serves, the food shelf has become somewhat of a miracle.

The first actual pantry was started in the 1980s at Our Savior's Lutheran Church in Circle Pines, and that church has continued to house the food shelf. But it recently outgrew its space, and in early November, it moved into new quarters in the lower level of the Circle Pines City Hall. The expansive space has a real office and many other amenities to serve clients. Contributions have been flowing in exactly when needed to redecorate and furnish the space. 

The lease for the space was negotiated with the city, resulting in very low-cost rent. Paint and equipment were donated. The food shelf director received a call one day, just as the painting was complete, to see if it could use some freezers. The shelving has been donated.   

The miracle story of the Centennial Community Food Shelf is, in part, a result of the hard work of volunteer board members from area churches, including several from Gethsemane. Gethsemane member Ron Koon, chair of the board, has been a driving force in the administrative work required for the food shelf to become a nonprofit organization; Mashell Olson, another Gethsemane member, has provided careful attention to financial details. 

Each month, people from Gethsemane work to serve clients who come to the food shelf, and they have been a big part of the planning and preparation for the move, including support with prayer. Gethsemane collects food and donations for the food shelf each week.   

Pastor Diane Olson wrote a blessing for the new food shelf space, which was shared at the new site's open house last month. But Olson says it's clear that God has already blessed this new space and the efforts to "provide nourishment to the people in the spirit of love," the mission statement of Centennial Community Food Shelf. 

In 2012, the food shelf distributed nearly 110,000 pounds of food. In 2013, in a partnership with Centennial schools, the food shelf initiated a "Powerpack" program to send food home with hungry kids over weekends. 

Minnesota Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church

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(612) 870-0058