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Food shelf upgrades services with new freezer

Thanks to generous community support, Hubbard County Food Shelf Director Bob Hansen welcomed a new walk-in freezer to the facility. Electricians installed the equipment, along with new refrigerators, on Wednesday. (Shannon Geisen/Enterprise)

A shiny, brand-spanking-new, walk-in freezer sits at the Hubbard County Food Shelf.

The much-needed equipment and two new, commercial refrigerators arrived Wednesday. The food shelf closed for the day for installation.

"This is really exciting. This really increases our capacity for all our foods," said Denny Ulmer, the food shelf's unofficial assistant director. "Big day for us."

Ulmer wrote the initial grant to replace the food shelf's outdated walk-in freezer, which had a broken seal. It was so ancient, they couldn't find parts for it. The food shelf received a $5,000 grant from Open Your Hearts, a nonprofit organization based in Minneapolis.

The Park Rapids Enterprise Chili Challenge and an anonymous $11,000 gift allowed the facility to purchase the new freezer and 80-inch-tall refrigerators. In all, nearly $22,000 was raised locally.

"The community has been very supportive," Ulmer said of the project.

"This is going to give us quite a bit of refrigerator space," agreed Hubbard County Food Shelf Director Bob Hansen.

Other improvements are in the works. Clients and volunteers may notice new, brighter lighting.

"As finances permit, we're trying to change out lighting fixtures and put in LEDs," Hansen said. "We're trying to become more energy efficient. In the long run, we'll get a payback."

Hansen plans to install new shelving as well.

"I think we're doing a lot of things, cheering things up a bit," he said.

"Some time down the road," Hansen would also like to purchase additional walk-in coolers so the food shelf can store more fresh produce.

There's always a need for more volunteers. Volunteers are asked to help one day per month, typically from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The food shelf needs a minimum of two volunteers per day, sometimes three. Those interested in helping may pick up an application form at the food shelf or call (732-1282) to have one mailed.