by Cori Hilsgen
A local food program created to make fresh fruits and vegetables more affordable to families in the Twin Cities is coming to St. Joseph.
“Fare for All Express,” will have a grand opening from 4-6 p.m. Monday, March 17 at the Resurrection Lutheran Church.
Local resident Mary Plafcan said she heard about a group of Resurrection Church members who were trying to help people in the community find resources to get the groceries they needed. She decided to offer her help.
The group had been investigating “Ruby’s Pantry” in Sauk Centre to see if that option would work in St. Joseph. Someone had also heard about Fare for All, so Plafcan and Resurrection member Amanda Roles contacted Scott Weatherhead from Fare for All. Weatherhead visited St. Joseph and spoke to various people about the program at a recent meeting. The group decided to go with Fare for All instead of Ruby’s Pantry because it fit the needs and the facility at St. Joseph better.
Plafcan said various other area organizations are also supporting Fare for All.
Established in 2007 by Emergency Foodshelf Network, Fare for All Express purchases fresh fruits and vegetables and frozen meats in bulk and passes the savings on to anyone who would like to stretch their food budget dollars.
In a press release, program manager Sophia Lenarz-Coy said the program is designed to make healthy foods available to people.
“Many families have been forced to cut back on fresh produce and lean meats because of ever-shrinking food budgets,” Lenarz-Coy said. “Fair for All is designed to help make affordable, healthy foods available to those families.”
When Fair for All launched in 2007, it served about 5,000 households in nine Twin Cities locations. In 2013, it had grown to 24 locations and sold food packages to more than 37,000 households.
The program is meant to supplement people’s grocery-story purchases. It provides produce and meat items that might not otherwise be affordable to them. Households who utilize the program have access to and often consume more healthy foods.
Lenarz-Coy said the 700-percent growth of the program since its establishment demonstrates the need many Minnesotans have for affordable nutritious food. Because the program buys food in bulk, it’s open to anyone. More participation means Fare for All can offer better deals.
Plafcan said she wants to encourage everyone to take advantage of the program because the program is able to get better prices if more people use it. She said when it is possible, foods are purchased locally and often there are also free bread items which are donated.
Plafcan said the program is looking for volunteers to help at distributions.
Fare for All is open to everyone and does not require any registration. The program sells packages of fruits, vegetables and frozen meats and accepts cash, credit, debit and EBT cards.
Fair for All food distributions will be one Monday each month at Resurrection Lutheran Church located at 610 CR 2 in St. Joseph. Distribution dates for 2014 include March 17, April 14, May 12, June 9, July 7, Aug. 4, Sept. 15, Oct. 13, Nov. 10 and Dec. 8.
For additional information contact Mary Plafcan at 320-249-5718.
Hilsgen is a contributing reporter for the Newsleaders. The central Minnesota native is a wife, mother and grandmother. She has a Bachelor's degree in Organizational Management and Communication from Concordia University – St. Paul, MN and enjoys learning about and sharing other people's stories through the pages of the Newsleaders.