By Rachel M. Anderson, Contributing Writer
(White Bear Lake) – “It’s just tremendous what they’ve done here,” said Allan Lewison of White Bear Lake, as he and his wife, Joan, made their way through the new grocery area.
“This is real fantastic, wow!” exclaimed Gayle Vail of Vadnais Heights, as she checked out the warehouse.
There was a very enthusiastic crowd at the White Bear Area Emergency Food Shelf’s ice cream social/open house held on June. 22. “We’re celebrating the renovation being complete and the new shopping model. It’s also kind of a thank you to the community for its support,” said Julie Jergins, the Food Shelf’s Executive Director.
More than a dozen volunteers and board members joined Jergins leading tours to show off all that is new. There are now easily accessible coolers filled with milk, butter, eggs and meat, a new walk-in cooler for produce, and a new open grocery area. Also on the tour, the brand new offices for outreach and support staff, and the on-site vegetable garden where a portion of the produce given away comes from.
The cost of the $144,000 renovation was paid for by grants from Ramsey County, the Otto Bremer Foundation and Hunger-Free Minnesota.
In addition to the visible renovations, a lot of work went on behind the scenes to modernize the operational infrastructure of the facility. White Bear Lake-based Softuitive upgraded computers, installed new high-speed data cable for the offices and a brand new robust server. Jergins hired Softuitive after learning about the IT work the company had done for the recently completed White Bear Center for the Arts.
“Softuitive has been absolutely essential to solving our IT problems and getting us through this remodel,” said Jergins.
“What I love about this project is knowing I am helping people with needs that are very real.” said Softuitive Founder Nathan Jewett.
According to Katie Brettingen, the Food Shelf’s Operations and Volunteer Manager, approximately 2,500 individuals are served at the Food Shelf per month. The White Bear Area Emergency Food Shelf is located at 1884 Whitaker Street in White Bear Lake. More information about the organization can be found at www.whitebearfoodshelf.org. More information about Softuitive can be found at www.softuitive.com.
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