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Helping stretch your grocery dollar

On Thursday, Nov. 20, from 5:30-7 p.m. a donation of $20 will fill two large boxes or clothes baskets with food and other goods for anyone who stops by the National Guard Armory in New Richmond, thanks to an organization called Ruby’s Pantry.

“They are a faith-based organization that provides food for anyone no matter their income, faith, residence or age,” said Mona Flanum, who is a site leader for Ruby’s Pantry and a member of the First Lutheran Church in New Richmond. “They give out surplus from food corporations, like the stuff that does not sell well or is nearing its expiration date, but is still safe to eat.”

Ruby's Pantry is a nonprofit organization that distributes corporate surplus food. They have 50 distribution sites throughout Minnesota and Wisconsin. The program is open to anyone who eats, regardless of income or residence. The food distributions take place the third Thursday of each month from 5:30-7 p.m. at the armory.

Flanum first learned about Ruby’s Pantry when she found out about the location the organization had been running in Amery for many years. After learning about the group, Flanum told many people in the New Richmond community and at First Lutheran about the organization and what she thought they could do for the community.

“The people I talked to thought the idea to see if Ruby’s Pantry could come to New Richmond was a good one, so I reached out to their home office to see if there was a chance they could set up a distribution here,” Flanum said. “However, I was told it wouldn’t work at this time to have a location in New Richmond since the organization needed more equipment and such, but they thought New Richmond would be a good place to have a location in the future. To my surprise, Ruby’s Pantry called me back 10 days later and they said that they would be able to start a distribution center here after all.”

Each guest is asked to give a $20 donation for each share of food. Once a guest makes their donation, they receive a number, which determines their order in the distribution line.

A share consists of a variety of food items -- enough to fill two large boxes or laundry baskets. Of the $20 donated for each share, $18 goes to Ruby’s Pantry to pay for the trucks that bring the food, the gas for those trucks and other organizational needs. The other $2 will go toward First Lutheran’s benevolence fund.

“One share will get you about 18 to 28 items, depending on what is available during that distribution,” Flanum said. “They load up nine semis with everything from Gold'n Plump chickens to Chobani yogurt, along with meat, fruit, bread and they always have potatoes. Volunteers help set out the food on the tables and put it into the boxes when someone comes through the line.”

Along with Flanum, Kathy Wettig, who is also a member of First Lutheran, is also a site leader for Ruby’s Pantry and has helped Flanum with bringing a distribution center to New Richmond.

The XYZ Retired Group at First Lutheran will have an update on Ruby's Pantry by Kathy Wettig and Mona Flanum on Wednesday, Nov. 19. at the church (218 County Road K). There will be a potluck dinner at noon and the presentation will follow. All community members are welcome at the event.

For more information about the program, contact Mona Flanum (715-246-4357) or Kathy Wettig (715-248-3675), or visit or To inquire about volunteering, contact Flanum or Wettig, or email


Ruby's Pantry

What: Distribution of corporate surplus food and goods to help fight poverty, hunger and disease in rural communities for those with low resources and who are in crisis.

When: Third Thursday each month. First event to be held Nov. 20, doors open at 5 p.m. with distribution going from 5:30-7 p.m.

Where: National Guard Armory at 1245 Wall St., New Richmond

Info: Bring two large boxes or clothes baskets and with a $20 donation each visit to receive food.

Volunteers needed: For more information about the program, or to inquire about volunteering, contact Mona Flanum (715-246-4357) or Kathy Wettig (715-248-3675) or email

Jordan Willi
Jordan Willi is a reporter for the New Richmond News. Previously, he worked as a sports reporter at the Worthington Daily Globe in Worthington, Minnesota. He also interned at the Hudson Star Observer for two summers and contributed to the Bison Illustrated sports magazine at North Dakota State University.
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