What started in the basement of a Wayzata church 43 years ago has since flourished as a way to ensure the basic needs of the community are being met. “This community rallies together and I think it is a model for other communities,” says Kevin Ward, the executive director of the Interfaith Outreach and Community Partners (IOCP). “It is neighbors taking care of neighbors.”
The IOCP looks at what it means to be stable. Leveraging its efforts through the help of the community, it provides families with the necessary tools to achieve a stable future. IOCP gathers resources and works with the community so that basic human needs such as food, accessible housing, a livable wage, safety, financial support and a sense of belonging don’t go missed. “We want to build a community where everyone feels accounted for,” Ward says.
Sorted, organized, administered and sourced by active members of the community, the Resale Select provides items for families and individuals to make their house feel like a home. Celebrating its 10th year, Ward says it has been a great way to provide a refresh for many homes within the community. The shop features clothing items, household items, books, technology, such as TVs and computers, and furniture.
Set up like a trift shop, clients work with staff to access the items they need; all shoppers’ purchases support and strengthen Interfaith programs. “When [customers] give support to the resale and when we sell and shop, [the profits are] going right to help other neighbors,” Ward says. “It is this cool kind of cycle.”
The most desired items for donation:
- Big, tall and large sizes for men, women and children
- New or gently used handbags and shoes
- Household furnishings such as furniture and décor
Though canned items are great and withstand the test of time, the need for fresh produce is often overlooked when it comes to food shelves. To make these desired healthy options more appealing and accessible, IOCP collaborated with the University of Minnesota to revamp their food shelf to become a SuperShelf last fall.
What distinguishes a SuperShelf from a generic food shelf is the nutritional quality of the food available for the clients. “It is comparable to a typical grocery store,” Ward says. “We are making it more user friendly and creating a belonging environment where people want to come.”
Elements that were updated to enhance the shopping experience:
- Increased variety of healthy proteins, grains and produce and culturally specific foods to serve the varying populations.
- Redesigned layout to make heathier choices more visible such as displaying produce in the front of the food shelf and placing items at eye level.
- Incorporated color-coded signs in the four most spoken languages in the region: English, Spanish, Russian and Somali.
- Created more engaging displays to showcase different varieties of foods.
The IOCP SuperShelf by the numbers:
- Serves nearly 200 households per week.
- 44 percent of the individuals served through the shelf are children.
- Every $1 donated is equal to $9 worth of food at the shelf.
To learn more about how to get involved visit iocp.org.