STEP Turning to Gardeners for Help

The local food shelf is making a push to get more fresh produce on its shelves.

On a blazing hot afternoon earlier this month, Nan Zosel drove over to the with several boxes of fresh produce, which had just been shipped to a Minnetonka synagogue.

Typically, people associate canned veggies and other non-perishable items with food shelves, but Zosel is working to change that.

As part of the Garden Gleaning Project, the south Minneapolis resident has taken on the role of STEP's neighborhood coordinator. Her goal? Get people to bring fresh produce to the St. Louis Park food shelf.

“The food shelf model in the metro area is gradually shifting because they have this realization that fresh food is better for people," Zosel said. “If we provide it, people will take it.”

By working with five metro area food shelves, including STEP, the Garden Gleaning folks hope to continue to bring more and more fresh produce to people who need it.

“It feels really great to give people good food," Zosel said.

For Zosel, partnering with STEP makes perfect sense—she works as a chaplain at Breck School in Golden Valley, and she said her classes make several trips to STEP during the year to volunteer.

Zosel added that while places like synagogues and businesses like contribute produce to the venture, she really wants to see resident gardeners get on board, too.

“They simply need to know where their nearest food shelf is, and when it’s open," she said.

STEP's open hours are as follows:

  • Mondays: 8am to 4pm
  • Tuesdays: Noon to 8pm
  • Wednesdays: 8am to 4pm
  • Thursdays: 8am to 4pm
  • Fridays: 8am to Noon

Zosel said all types of produce are welcome. It is requested that the gardener does some light washing before dropping off his or her veggies.

Ultimately, Zosel said she hopes to plant a seed in the minds of local gardeners, getting them to think of their neighborhood food shelf.

“We’d love to encourage gardeners to think of growing an extra row,” she said. “If you want another place to share the feast, this is a place to do it.”


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