McLeod Emergency Food Shelf Grows Into New Space

In June 2021, FFEN was enlisted to help meet the challenges faced by the McLeod Emergency Food Shelf’s Glencoe location (one of two locations and a mobile unit) as they outgrew their space. Once the food shelf secured the new space for purchase, FFEN was tasked with consulting on designing a new layout for their expanding service.

With guidance and support by FFEN, the move—the first in more than 20 years—took place last fall and was a collaborative effort. Together staff, professional movers and volunteers, the true heroes in this story, worked tirelessly to see the project come to fruition. Space planning volunteer Asmita provided critical consultation and considerations around space flow, related to a suggestion to turn shelving diagonally for a more spacious feel. She also provided a 3D glimpse into the space so food shelf staff could “feel” what it would look like before any shelves were set in place. The vibrant and spacious new footprint, formerly housing Franklin Printing, was made possible by legacy donations enabling a transformation of existing space as well as ensuring growth into the future.

In Glencoe, the days of micro-efficiency are in the rearview. With its larger footprint, shoppers, staff and volunteers alike can navigate the aisles with ease—and without fear of bumping carts with their neighbors or literally stepping on each other’s toes. The food shelf recently welcomed more than 200 guests to showcase its beautiful new space at an open house event in April.

What does this new space have to offer to the community? Perhaps most important, shoppers will now be able to access the food shelf twice each month, doubling their accessibility, as well as once each week to shop for fresh produce. And when they enter the space, they will see sleek, modular shelving units to more adequately display merchandise; four new double-door coolers for dairy, deli and produce; new chest freezer space for meat/protein and additional stock; a welcoming waiting area with seating; a checkout area with scale; cart storage; and critical office spaces that enable confidentiality and private consultation. Additionally, they have space to set up their curbside pickup operation as well as expand their mobile distribution. The food shelf utilizes food rescue for more than 70% of its food sourcing.

Serving between 1200-1400 individuals in the community, the Glencoe location is moving closer to their pre-Covid levels of service. A volunteer since 2009, Helen Jensen states, “it’s been a great move. The shoppers can move through the space and shop as if they are shopping in a supermarket.” Executive Director Lennie Albers could not be more thrilled with the new facility. She hopes the location will continue to grow and sees it situated well to be a connecting point for greater Minnesota. “The process is easy…to be a shopper at McLeod Food Shelf all you need to do is show up.” And about the new space she says, “it is like a dream come true.”