Food Shelf remains open, with precautions in place

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By Audrey Posten, North Iowa Times

Many local entities have closed or limited their hours over the past week due to the spread of COVID-19, but the Clayton County Food Shelf isn’t one of them. The social service remains open its regular hours, Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to noon and 1 to 4 p.m.

But director Utoni Ruff is taking social distancing precautions to protect both herself and the food shelf’s patrons.

The door is now locked, she said, and visitors will be asked to ring a bell when they need assistance.  Ruff will come to the door and collect pertinent information about the household, then pack up the items and bring them outside while the individual waits.

“If need be,” she said, “I will deliver with limited contact.”

She can also be available nights, weekends and holidays.

Before COVID-19 struck—and before kids were home from school, workers laid off from their jobs and senior meal sites closed—Ruff said the food shelf was serving around 85 families per month. Now, it’s roughly 15 each day.

So far, she’s been able to meet patrons’ needs.

“Right now, I have plenty,” said Ruff, “but I’ll gladly take food and monetary donations. I’m not able to get toilet paper any easier than anyone else. So if you’ve accumulated anything more than what you need, we would appreciate it.”

Volunteers are also welcome.

Even as the COVID-19 spread intensifies, Ruff said residents shouldn’t worry about a stoppage of service.

“I’ll be here,” she assured, “and I’ll be handing things out.”

The Clayton County Food Shelf is located at 100 W. Hill St., in St. Olaf, and can also be reached at (563) 783-7794. Monetary donations can be mailed to Clayton County Food Shelf, P.O. Box 48, St. Olaf, IA 52072.

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