Whether they are a block away, or on the other side of the world, God urges us to feed those who are hungry. Gloria Dei responds by collecting for our local food shelves, by cooking meals for shelters, by garden shares and by sending financial support. Join us! Hunger outreach efforts offer a unique opportunity to engage and teach your entire family - from the oldest to the youngest children - the importance of helping our local and global communities.

Hunger Outreach Programs

Gloria Dei gathers groceries regularly for our neighbors who are hungry. We support the following food shelves:

Francis Basket
Located here in Highland Park, Francis Basket serves over 1,500 individuals in our local neighborhood including many new immigrants. Each year we have a special month-long collection for Francis Basket as part of the Minnesota FoodShare March Campaign. You will find large, red containers at our parking lot entrance accepting donations any time.

Keystone Food Shelf
The Keystone Basic Needs Program helps feed the hungry and assists people in crisis in a large service area in Ramsey County — from downtown St. Paul to Roseville, from Little Canada to the Midway and the North End neighborhoods of St. Paul. We do a special collection each year around Thanksgiving to support Keystone Food Shelf.

Department of Indian Work Emergency Services Food Shelf

Operated by Interfaith Action of Greater Saint Paul (formerly the Saint Paul Area Council of Churches), the Department of Indian Work (DIW) addresses needs and issues in the American Indian community, respecting the cultural and spiritual diversity of the people it serves. The Department of Indian Work Emergency Services Food Shelf has assisted low-income individuals who are American Indian for over 50 years.

On the fourth Wednesday of even-numbered months, volunteers from Gloria Dei feed those who are hungry at the Dorothy Day Center in downtown St. Paul (183 Old 6th St. W.). In less than 90 minutes, we feed approximately 325 people!

One team of volunteers gathers from 1:30-3:00 pm, to prepare a nutritious meal. A second team arrives at 4:00 pm to serve the meal to the guests. Volunteer and serve just one time to learn about how to feed the hungry, or join us as often as six times per year. Sign up.

For more information, contact Pastor Javen Swanson

Giving Garden
Gloria Dei has planted some small vegetable gardens along Highland Parkway to grow produce for our friends at Francis Basket (delivered each Monday). If you see the gardens need tending, weeding, or watering, please join in the fun!

Garden Share
Do you have a garden full of too many vegetables? Garden Share is a chance for us to bring the treasures of our vegetable gardens to share with our neighborhood food pantry. Look for the Garden Share basket in the Gathering Place on Sundays in the summer and share your garden’s bounty with our community! Produce will be delivered to Francis Basket on Monday mornings.

Local and Sustainable Agriculture
Local farmer Mai Yang and her daughters, Pala, Mai Yia, and Vang Xiong, cultivate land near Saint Paul. They sell their produce in the Gathering Place between services and after the second service. Your support of Mai is a way to buy local produce and encourage her work. This relationship is made possible through Farmer’s Legal Action Group of Saint Paul.

What is the Weekend Backpack Program?

Gloria Dei has partnered with Highland Park Elementary (HPE) School for six years to provide nutritious food for children, so they get enough to eat on weekends. Nearly 60% of children are eligible for free lunch and teachers see a real need for the Weekend Backpack Food Program. This is a tangible way to help reduced childhood hunger in our neighborhood. Sign up.

Non-perishable, nutritious food is purchased from The Food Group (formerly the Emergency Food Shelf) and stored at Gloria Dei. Until this year, groups of Gloria Dei volunteers pack bags at church each week, deliver bags to HPE on Fridays, and distribute them into the children’s backpacks.

The 2020-2021 School Year brings with it many challenges. The Weekend Backpack Program has worked to adapt the program to meet the current needs of HPE families to reduce hunger in our neighborhood and particularly those students and families that attend HPE.

One in eight Minnesotans is struggling to put food on the table as we face this pandemic and its impact on our economy. Many families who have never needed help now need assistance. The food shelves report a 70% increase in the number of clients since the beginning of the pandemic.

While children are distance learning, the Weekend Backpack Program now has shelf stable and fresh foods such as milk, eggs, bread, fruit, etc., available for families to pick up on Wednesdays from 5:30-6 p.m. at the HPE Main Entrance. This food is available for any HPE family. Simply show up and walk through the line to choose items to are right for your family. (Please wear a mask.)

How Can You Volunteer?

Bring a Bag of Fresh Food
On Wednesdays, 10 Gloria Dei families who sign up can bring a bag of food to HPE at 1700 Saunders between 5:00 and 5:30 p.m. This is a no contact drop-off outside of the Main Entrance of the school. Simply sign up for the week(s) that work for you. HPE Parents pick up the food from 5:30-6 p.m.

Deliver Shelf-Stable Food from Gloria Dei to HPE
Pick up shelf stable food from Gloria Dei Sharing Place and deliver food to HPE on Wednesdays between 4:30 and 5:30 p.m. Two experienced volunteers will train new volunteers. Contact Pastor Javen or Mary Jo Hallberg.

Help with Distribution of Food
Meet at HPE on Wednesdays from 5-6 p.m. Experienced volunteers will always accompany volunteers and train. Contact Pastor Javen or Mary Jo Hallberg.

Organize Food Delivered from the Food Group
Join a group of volunteers to move food delivered from The Food Group to Gloria Dei and place in the Sharing Place on the 4th Monday of the month around 11 a.m. Contact Mary Jo Hallberg.

The Weekend Backpack Program is run entirely by volunteers. The only cost is the purchase of food from The Food Group. This is inexpensive kid-friendly food and is delivered for free to Gloria Dei. Volunteers provide all other aspects of the program.

It takes $12,000 to run the program each year. We are grateful for donations to continue our work to reduce childhood hunger in our neighborhood. Click here to make a donation.

For more information please contact Pastor Javen or Mary Jo Hallberg.