Upgraded building houses twice the space for storage

Photo by Robert Williams
Becker County Food Pantry Board President Dale Storey, center, and special guests to his left Executive Director Brad Carlson, original board members Elaine Forsell and Julie Sanders-Merritt, and marketing professional Alissa Mork cut the ribbon at the grand opening celebration Wednesday, Nov. 15, in Detroit Lakes.

By Robert Williams


The Becker County Food Pantry celebrated the grand opening of its new building with a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Wednesday, Nov. 15, in Detroit Lakes.

“It’s been a journey,” Pantry Board President Dale Storey said. “Thanksgiving is next week and today, for me, is a day of thanks. Thanking the city, county for kicking start our campaign with their donations. Bremer Foundation gave us a grant to help out and the ones that kept us going were our consistent donors sending us money all the time. They helped us out to stay focused and where we needed to be. They’re the reason we are here because everything we get are donations.”

Another big reason for the pantry’s success is the work of volunteers from those who work day-to-day operations to people who helped move the facility across town.

“Our volunteers that are here everyday helping us out and doing their job; we have a consistent group and they have accepted the changes that have happened in our building here and that’s been a great thing too,” said Storey.

Storey thanked specific, individual volunteers Steve Schumacher and Alissa Mork, for research and marketing work, respectively, along with current executive director Brad Carlson and former executive director Jack Berenz.

“For 27 years, these two guys have run this pantry and were doing it for no wages at all,” said Storey.

The recent move from the former location on Rossman Avenue to its new location on Terry Street off of Richwood Road was scheduled to take 10 days, but thanks to volunteers the job was completed in only one day.

“It’s amazing,” said Storey. “That gave us days ahead of time to put together everything in this building.”

The board president thanked Randy Gravelle of Absolute Ice in Detroit Lakes for the use of his truck, forklifts and crew that sped up the completion of the move.

Carlson gave a brief history of the food pantry, which began operations in 1982. Members of the ministerial association selected people from different churches to form the original board of directors.

“Each pastor picked a woman and we’re very lucky to have two of them with us today,” Carlson said.

The executive director introduced those original board members Julie Sanders-Merritt and Elaine Forsell.

“These are the original board members; these are the ones who got us going,” Carlson said.

Carlson reiterated the help that both the city and county have provided.

“Without the county and the city, things would be different,”

Becker County Commissioner John Okeson and Detroit Lakes City Councilman Matt Boeke both thanked all the volunteers and congratulated the group on the upgrade.

“Thank you from all the constituents who will take advantage of this for years to come,” Boeke said. “The real kudos goes to you and the board for seeing this through.”

The Food Pantry officially opened on Tuesday, Oct. 31. It is open to the public Tuesdays and Thursdays from 12-3 p.m. 

The new facility has twice the amount of space for storage than the former building and the store includes a walk-in cooler and walk-in freezer.

“The comments we get from the people we serve makes it all worth it,” Storey said.

The Food Pantry is combining with the Subaru of America Share the Love Program over the holidays.

R&G Subaru of Detroit Lakes, along with Subaru of America, have donated $228,525 to local charities. From Thursday, Nov. 16 through Tuesday, Jan. 2 Subaru will donate $250 from every automobile purchase to the Food Pantry.