Food shelf

The McLeod Emergency Food Shelf in Hutchinson will take a look at how it displays food and what food it offers as part of SuperShelf.

McLeod Emergency Food Shelf is about to get a little more super.

As part of the SuperShelf program, the Hutchinson location will be transformed to become more welcoming with an atmosphere similar to that of a grocery store.

“We know other food shelves that have undertaken the SuperShelf transformation have seen an increase in the nutritional quality of foods available and selected by clients,” said Lennie Albers, McLeod Emergency Food Shelf executive director. “We hope to do the same in our community.”

SuperShelf site changes are designed to:

  • increase the quality, accessibility and variety of better foods;
  • reconfigure shelf layout to give prominence to fruits, vegetables and fewer processed foods;
  • alter categories to encourage selection of better options;
  • showcase and promote healthier foods with recipes and samples;
  • develop policies to maintain inventory; and
  • identify areas of improvement.

The change is expected to take several months with help from a consultant on the University of Minnesota Extension Health and Nutrition team. There will be a brief interruption in service at the Hutchinson site during the transition.

"We will be closed for a period of time. We are hoping just a few days," Albers said.

In the meantime, the Glencoe site will remain open.

Albers hopes that once the change is completed in Hutchinson, Glencoe will follow within a matter of months.

"There will hopefully be the opportunity to get a few extra dollars in additional grants," she said. "We want our families to have the same experience at both sites."

She said maintaining consistency between Hutchinson and Glencoe is important for the food shelf's management and data collection.

In 2018, the McLeod Emergency Food Shelf distributed 509,944 pounds of food to 8,357 households. An estimated 1-in-7 county residents use the food shelf.

Several pilot programs for SuperShelf have been launched across Minnesota in recent years, showing the method to be sustainable and well received. Albers said that while many sites so far have been part of the study period, results have been promising and the approach is quickly gaining popularity across the state. A $2.1 million, five-year grant from the National Institutes of Health in 2017 enabled SuperShelf to expand to additional locations and study the impact on the community’s health.

SuperShelf was founded by a partnership between The Food Group, Valley Outreach, HealthPartners, the University of Minnesota Extension Health and Nutrition team and the University of Minnesota Department of Family Medicine and Community Health.

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