Youth-only food shelf opens in Maplewood


Lynnette Medcalf, Social Work team lead, shows the food shelf at the Salvation Army in Maplewood, which is open to youth Wednesday from 3-5 p.m. each week. (Linda Baumeister/Review)

Just one short year after it opened its doors, the Maplewood Salvation Army food shelf at the Lakewood Worship and Service Center is expanding its program to target homeless youths in the area.

The food shelf located at 2080 Woodlynn Ave. in Maplewood is now allowing teens and young adults to come between 3 and 5 p.m. each Wednesday to pick out their own food with a staff member or volunteer. No identification or permanent address will be required to receive food items.

In order to receive assistance at most food shelves, people must show an I.D. and have a permanent address. For young people struggling on their own, this may be difficult to provide.

Social work team lead Lynette Medcalf predicts the typical visitor will be 18 to 21 years old and living on the streets or “couch-hopping” between friends’ homes.

“Like our regular food shelf here at Lakewood, the youth can self-shop with staff or a volunteer,” she said. “It’s nice because it gives them that piece of dignity and honor they deserve but is unfortunately sometimes missed when receiving such services.

“Plus, it sort of feels like you’re at your local grocery store (on a small scale anyway).”

In all, three Ramsey County food shelf locations operated through the Twin Cities Salvation Army have expanded their offerings to young people, including two sites in St. Paul and the one in Maplewood.

These expanded food shelves are made possible through the StreetWorks Outreach Collaborative, a non-profit network that brings together the energy and resources of several local organizations serving homeless youths in the Twin Cities area. The Salvation Army provides the space and the food for the youth-only food shelves, and StreetWorks staff will distribute the food and offer referrals to visitors.

The three Salvation Army youth-only food shelves in Ramsey County are open from 3 to 5 p.m. on the following days at these locations:

• Mondays and Thursdays: 1019 Payne Ave., St. Paul

• Tuesdays: 401 W. Seventh St., St. Paul

• Wednesdays: 2080 Woodlynn Ave., Maplewood (just east of Maplewood Mall)

For those who wish to donate to the youth food shelf, the Maplewood Salvation Army recommends donations of non-perishable, easy-to-prepare food like one-person microwavable meals.

“Items that can be easily microwaved and don’t require a ton of prep work are really nice,” Medcalf said. “Many times, the youth don’t have access to a stove, so being able to stop into a gas station and heat up a bowl of mac and cheese, soup or entrée dish is really helpful.

“And of course, what youth doesn’t like snacks and sweets?” she added as a suggestion.

For more information about the Maplewood Salvation Army site, visit www.salvationarmynorth.org/community/maplewood/.

Johanna Holub can be reached at jholub@lillienews.com or 651-748-7814.

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