Operation Round Up: Eden Valley’s New Food Shelf

Eden Valley Builds New Food Shelf with the Support of Operation Round Up and Other Area Organizations

Stearns Electric Association’s Operation Round Up® (ORU) program gives our member-consumers the opportunity to give back to their local communities by rounding up their monthly electric bill to the nearest dollar. The rounded-up funds (between 1¢ and 99¢) are placed in a trust fund and administered by a Trust Board appointed by the Cooperative’s elected Board of Directors. Operation Round Up® and Stearns Electric members have awarded over $2.3 million to local non-profit organizations and community service programs since the program’s inception in 1993.

‘Tis the season for gathering, celebrating and giving back. This year, the Cooperative’s Operation Round Up program provided over $151,500 to 195 area organizations. At the October distribution, over 80 organizations received funding, including $2,000 each to the 19 food shelves within the Stearns Electric service territory.

One of these food shelves recently built a brand-new facility to serve their local community. The Eden Valley Food Shelf unveiled its new building on November 20. The community food shelf serves about 20 families consistently, but anyone who lives within the Eden Valley – Watkins school district is welcome to use the food shelf, which is run by about 10 volunteers. The property is owned by the Church of God in Eden Valley, but all of the local churches and many local organizations provide support and volunteers.

“The new building was built on the same site as our previous food shelf location,” Pat Arnold, director of the Eden Valley Food Shelf, said. “When construction started last May, we moved all of our supplies to the nearby church garage and operated the food shelf out of there for the last six months or so. It’s so nice to be in our new, permanent space before the winter.”
The new 2,040 square foot food shelf includes a large open space for individuals to shop for food and another large waiting area.

“Our old facility was so small and individuals had to wait in their cars until there was space for them to come inside,” Arnold explained. “Now, we have this large waiting area, which allows individuals to come in, stay warm, sit down and relax until they can shop.”

Additionally, the new building has two offices, a utility room, bathroom and an unloading area featuring a large garage door.

“With the new unloading zone, we don’t need anyone to help us unload the delivery truck when it arrives anymore,” Arnold said. “It used to take three people to help get a delivery into the food shelf. Now, the truck driver can pull right up to the building and easily unload everything.”

Several community organizations stepped up to help the Eden Valley Food Shelf make this new building possible.

“The Lions Club in Eden Valley was a huge supporter of this project,” Arnold said. “Farmers and Merchants Bank matched some donations, and we also received support from Stearns Electric, Cenex and Land O’ Lakes in Paynesville, Meeker Cooperative Light and Power Association, the Watkins VFW and many, many other organizations and community members.”

“The Boy Scouts and Cub Scouts helped us move out of our old building and into our new facility,” she continued. “Our new shelving units were donated by Casey’s in Belgrade and two of the new freezers were donated by Electrolux, formerly of St. Cloud. Other donated items include grocery carts, volunteer time, money and non-perishable food items.”

“We really appreciate all of the help we have received from our local businesses, organizations and community members to make this project possible,” Arnold concluded. ”And thank you to the Operation Round Up Trust for your continued support.”

Pictured above: Some of the volunteers of Eden Valley Food Shelf: Carol Kelm, Karin Haag, Millie Jensen (president of the Food Shelf), Jon Lapp (Church of God treasurer), and Pat Arnold (director of the Food Shelf).