No shame allowed at Salvation Army food shelves
Amber felt guilty and ashamed the first time she walked into the food shelf at the West 7th Salvation Army in St. Paul, one of our nine food shelves benefitting from this month’s 2 million pounds food drive.
“I felt like I was taking away from somebody who needed it more – I’m used to being the person who is giving,” said Amber, a lifelong restaurant server who’s been hard hit by the pandemic. “It’s humbling to receive food when you can’t afford it, when you have to spend that money on rent or other bills.”
Prior to the pandemic, Amber spent years working at an upscale restaurant in St. Paul. Ever since the shutdown first occurred a year ago, she’s stayed afloat by working odd jobs and dipping into her savings. Currently she’s working as a house cleaner, with plans to resume her career in the hospitality industry.
These days, Amber no longer feels bad about stopping by her local Salvation Army whenever she needs a helping hand.
“The staff says there is plenty of food for everybody and they are here to help,” Amber said. “I’ve never felt judged or shamed by the people who work at The Salvation Army. I am always amazed by their warmth and grace. It makes a tough situation lighter.”
Record numbers of people have been receiving food at the West 7th Salvation Army in St. Paul during the COVID-19 crisis. The local neighborhood includes many people like Amber: service industry workers whose jobs have been eliminated or their hours cut due to the pandemic.
“We’ve served many people who’ve never come here before,” said Don LaMar, who helps lead the West 7th Salvation Army. “They’ve thanked us for being here, saying they didn’t know how they were going to get through.”
In addition to getting food at The Salvation Army, Amber and other guests receive something else that is just as important: love.
“What’s so beautiful about coming to The Salvation Army is that I’ve gotten to know the people who work there and the volunteers,” Amber said. “They say things like ‘I missed you’ and ‘We haven’t seen you in a while’ and ‘It’s always so nice to see you.’ It puts humanity into the situation. I get teary-eyed when I think about it.”
The Salvation Army has provided nearly 3 million meals locally during the past year. An infusion of 2 million pounds of food – equal to about 50 semi-loads – would provide 1.2 million meals, ensuring that struggling people and families can keep food on the table during the pandemic.
Please help The Salvation Army raise 2 million pounds of food by donating nonperishables, hosting a food drive, giving a cash donation, or volunteering.
Host a food drive: Collect nonperishable foods at your organization now through March 27. We will send you a Food Drive Starter Kit that includes promotional materials for you to print off or post on your website and social media. When you’ve finished your collection, bring your food to Salvation Army headquarters in Roseville on Saturday, March 27 for a special contactless, drive-thru weigh-in event. Sign up today at 2MillionPounds.org.
Give a cash donation: Help us feed hungry families by giving online at 2MillionPounds.org. Every $150 you give equals about 120 pounds of food.
Volunteer: Got extra time? Help us unload delivery vehicles, weigh food, stock shelves, and more. Sign up to volunteer now.
Watch the video below for an inside look at what a typical day is like distributing food at the West 7th Salvation Army in St. Paul, one of nine food shelves operated by the Twin Cities Salvation Army.
It takes an Army of community support to raise 2 million pounds of food – including help from the Twin Cities media. Below is a small sampling of the many local newspapers and TV stations that are helping The Salvation Army get the word out about this historic food drive.
• Star Tribune story about the growing need for food in Minnesota.
• KSTP Channel 5 story about Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer donating to the food drive.
• Pioneer Press story about our food drive.
• WCCO Channel 4 story about the need for donations.
* Illustrative photo used to protect privacy.