Joyce Uptown Food Shelf: Increasing Food Choices Safely

A Minneapolis Food Shelf in the House!

In January of 2020, Joyce Uptown Food Shelf contacted FFEN for support in transitioning to a client choice shopping model. They were interested in improving their food shelf layout for a more efficient flow of food and clients, as well as help securing new equipment and advice on ordering food.

Joyce Uptown Food Shelf is set up in a house. Previous to this project, the main level of the house was client check-in and waiting, staff office, and staff/volunteer meeting space. All of the food was stored and packed in the basement. Clients would use a shopping list to choose categories of food they wanted and volunteers would pack up bags according to this list.

Transitioning to a choice model would rearrange the food shelf design. Food would be brought to the main level of the house in the office and meeting space. The office and meeting space would then be moved to the upper level of the home.

Basement Area for Packing Food Bags

When the pandemic hit in March 2020, this project was put on hold so the food shelf could focus on safely getting food to people. This meant no clients could be in the building and they would have to transition to using a fully pre-packed box pick-up model.

The desire to shift to a client choice shopping model was still strong, so conversation began again in the early summer. With no clients coming into the building, it would be a good time to do some physical transforming of the space. Office and meeting space were moved upstairs, new cooler and freezer units were purchased and installed, shelving and carts were purchased, and a new doorway was constructed to allow for one-way flow through the space. Not only is one-way flow important for public health safety at this time, it creates efficient flow through the space which is helpful in the long-term.

FFEN volunteers drew up a proposed layout design in the new space, informed equipment purchases, and even helped put together the shelving once it arrived! One of the FFEN volunteers is an interior designer by trade, and was able to provide expertise in flow and design.

Joyce Uptown ED, Lorrie, (top left) with FFEN team

"Working with the FFEN volunteers felt like a team, we could brainstorm and talk through options together, I couldn’t ask for a better team. I am so grateful to be able to work with FFEN, I don’t know how we would have done it otherwise," says Lorrie Sandelin, Joyce Uptown Food Shelf Director.

In September 2020, Joyce Uptown welcomed clients in to shop for the first time in the new model. Some of the safety precautions put in place include shopping by appointment only, one-way flow through the space, masks required, and hand sanitizer available throughout. They also have gloves and small bags at their fresh produce baskets.

“Wish I had the words to describe how much the clients love it. They say it’s the best, we love it. Some clients were apprehensive about making the appointment, because it’s a different model, they can’t just walk in, but once they come in, they’re hooked and say it’s worth making the appointment,” Lorrie explains.

What’s next for Joyce Uptown? They plan to expand their mobile food delivery service thanks to a recently purchased new van that’s currently being outfitted for food delivery!