More families are turning to food shelves in Minneapolis


On the corner of 31st and Fremont, tucked into the back of a two-story house called Joyce House, is the Joyce Emergency Food Shelf. Joyce United Methodist Church has sponsored this food shelf for over 30 years.

The Food Shelf was the idea of Doug Marks, who was then pastor of Joyce United Methodist Church. It wasn’t an easy sell to the congregation. He had a long battle with many of the members, but eventually Pastor Marks’ idea prevailed and the food shelf opened. Originally, only two of the rooms at Joyce House were used for the Food Shelf and the other rooms were used for a variety of things: a coffee house, a drop-in center and the Sexual Violence Center. Currently, the other rooms are used as a transition home as part of Simpson Housing Services.

The mission of the Food Shelf is to distribute food to those in need with respect and dignity, as an expression of God’s love, and seeks to serve the lost, the left out and the needy. Last year, Joyce Emergency Food Shelf helped an average of more than 1,540 people each month, many of whom were children and elderly neighbors.

The Food Shelf has partnered with the Emergency Food Shelf Network, the Second Harvest Heartland Food Bank, Hunger Solutions Minnesota, Hope for the Cities, Uptown Rotary and the Lyn-Lake Lions to make the most effective and efficient use of resources available. As the founding organization, Joyce United Methodist Church continues to retain ultimate responsibility for the food shelf. However, the food- shelf operates autonomously, with its own Board of Directors comprised of business leaders, foundation representatives and a member from Joyce United Methodist Church.

Food shelves in Minnesota have seen an increase of about 45 percent since 2002. The west metro alone, including Minnetonka, saw a whopping 139 percent increase just this past year.* Once only considered emergency assistance, more families than ever see food shelves as part of their regular subsistence program. Most users seek the emergency food assistance six times a year.

With milk prices at $4.50 a gallon, it doesn’t take long for a person making minimum wage to use up the majority of their paycheck on food. Compound that with rising housing costs and fuel costs and it’s easy to understand the rising demand for food shelves. *Data supplied by Hunger Solutions of Minnesota.

Susan Marsh is a longtime member of Joyce United Methodist Church and is a new resident of the Uptown neighborhood.