In 2013 a Ruby’s Pantry distribution site was opened in the City of Marshall.

At that time it was observed that many of the participants involved in the program were coming from the Redwood Falls area, and as a result the question of establishing a distribution site in Redwood Falls was posed to the church community.

In Spring 2014 Lindsey Caraway and Sue Osborne approached the leadership of First Presbyterian Church with a request for the church to get involved in the program.

According to Caraway, the church voted in favor of the idea, and the first Ruby’s Pantry distribution was held in May 2014 in Redwood Falls. Caraway and Osborne have served as the site leaders ever since the first distribution.

This past May, those involved with Ruby’s Pantry celebrated the fifth anniversary of its existence in the community and the impact it is having.

What is that impact?

According to Caraway, so far in 2019 there are 1,275 guests/families registered.

“I would guess we have distributed between 13,000 and 15,000 shares in our five years,” added Caraway. “Not only does the food help people, but with our benevolence fund we have been able to do things like give high-school graduates who have volunteered college scholarships.” 

The benevolence fund has also supported Imagination Library, area food shelf organizations with both funds and food, the local school backpack program and has helped sponsor mission trips and so much more.

Caraway attributed the success of the program to the great group of volunteers who have been part of the program over the years. She said it takes about 80 volunteers each month for the distribution to run smoothly, and last month Caraway said there were approximately 120 who came to serve.

“We have been really fortunate, especially this past year, to have many sports teams and Scouts and 4-H groups with coaches and leaders who have been wonderful volunteers for us,” said Caraway, adding over the years the distribution events have been blessed with good weather, too.

Caraway added it was important to recognize the fifth anniversary as a way to celebrate those who have made the program a success – the volunteers – adding even though five years seems like a long time it has truly flown by. Caraway wanted to express thanks to those who have served as volunteers over the years.

“If you come to Ruby’s everyone you see there is a volunteer,” she said. “No one is getting paid to be there.”

According to Caraway, some give two hours, while others offer up to 15 hours each month, adding the program has been blessed with so many wonderful and dedicated volunteers.

Caraway also expressed appreciation to Holly and Brooks Steffl and their business StepSaver for the donation of the forklift every month to assist with unloading the truck and taking away the recycling, as well as Larson’s Home Furniture for the donation of boxes that are used to hold the cardboard each month.

Words of thanks are also offered to the church community for its support over the past five years, including the missions committee from First Presbyterian Church for its support.

Naturally, Caraway also expressed gratitude to the community as a whole and the guests who come each month.

“We love being able to help people and are so grateful for the support of the community,” she said.

Caraway emphasized the fact that Ruby’s Pantry is open to everyone, whether you make $5,000 or $50,000. If you eat, you are welcome at Ruby’s Pantry, said Caraway.

The food distributed each month is corporate excess food and is part of an effort to eliminate food waste in this country, explained Caraway.

Volunteers are always needed to come and help. The distribution in Redwood Falls is held the third Tuesday of each month. The next distribution will be June 18 at the Armory.

Caraway added work is going to be done on the parking lot of the armory this summer, which means the location for the July and August distribution is currently up in the air. Those involved are currently working on the possibility of an alternate location.

Those who would like to come need to bring $20 in cash and two baskets to carry the food. Caraway said short laundry baskets with handles seem to work the best.

To learn more about Ruby’s Pantry, visit its Web site at www.rubyspantry.org.

Updates regarding the distribution in Redwood Falls can be found on its Facebook Page at Ruby’s Pantry Redwood Falls.

Other questions, including how to get involved as a volunteer can be sent to rubysredwoodfalls@gmail.com.