Last year I contacted Jim at the Dorothy Day Food Pantry in Moorhead, seeking an opportunity to volunteer with them.  I had volunteered and dedicated my time in the past to other events and causes, but none of them were food pantries.

Jim got back to me right away and I scheduled a time with him for orientation to go and volunteer my time at the food pantry.

In my first experience at a food pantry, I was amazed and humbled at the extent to which the food pantry administrators, organizers, and other volunteers went to help the less fortunate and their communities.
The food pantry receives food donations from several sources including grocery stores and donations from individuals in the community. The donations are sorted to make sure that they are not expired and are in good condition.

Unlike other food pantries that box donations for the recipients, Dorothy Day House is unique in the fact that they run their own little grocery store. Food items are placed on shelves and coolers with areas for bread, baked goods, soups, vegetable cans, etc. The recipients can walk with their own grocery cart and pick the items that they desire. The amount of items that they can pick as far as I was able to witness, is based on the number of family members, and maybe income. I never asked how it’s designated. It didn’t feel right to even subconsciously judge the recipients. They were designated a code and the volunteers walked around with the recipients and made sure that for each section in the isles that they picked as many items as allowed. This is not done in a way to police the recipients from taking advantage of the donations, but to make sure we spread what we have received as donations to as many individuals as we can. The recipients were treated with respect by everyone who worked there, as they should.

The food pantry is in no way meant as the primary source of food for families or  the recipient, it is only to be used as a supplement, an aid.

It was extremely rewarding to meet and speak to some of the people who came to the house. I have been in a place in my life when a kindness of a stranger, a smile, a hello meant everything to me, it was the same here. I was able to gain as much or even more as the recipients of the food pantry, volunteering at Dorothy Day House.

It wasn’t just the recipients, It was the kindness and the generosity of everyone who worked and volunteered at Dorothy Day House. They all had a bright light in their personality that was contagious, everyone wanted to help, everyone was understanding, sympathetic and kind.

It was one of the most rewarding experiences I have had, during a very dark time in my life, and I was very grateful, and I will continue to find the time to volunteer.

The purpose of this writing, more than any other, is to encourage you to find some time to participate and volunteer. We had private companies, college students, and missionaries all join us at Dorthy Day House. A quick search online will give you plenty of other opportunities.

I have been in situations where friends and complete strangers have shown me kindness and helped me out, I think we all might have similar stories. I wanted in my own way to pay it forward and get involved.

If you are interested.

  • Dorothy Day Food Pantry
  • 1308 Main Ave, Moorhead, MN 56560
  • (218) 284-8895

Volunteer Hours :

Tuesday/Thursday 1:00pm – 3:00pm  Monday/Wednesday 6:30pm – 7:30pm


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