This month, the St. Paul City Council met as the city’s Housing and Redevelopment Authority and authorized around $1.7 million in grants and loans for a new food shelf on University Avenue in St. Paul to promote low-income family assistance.
Keystone Community Services is one of the major non-profit food shelf organizations in Ramsey County, with many sites in the region. The Keystone Community Food Center will not only provide food assistance, but will also serve as a hub that will collaborate with other organizations to provide basic needs services, such as tax assistance, financial education, rental assistance, and other programs, through volunteer resource navigators.
Due to the rising cost of living, the number of individuals requesting assistance from Keystone has risen over the last year, with trips to food banks tripling.
Mary McKeown, president and CEO of Keystone Community Services, said, “Now, more than ever, we need it because there is so much need in the community, and a large portion of that need is due to inflation.” “It’s tougher for them to make ends meet.”
In December of 2020, the Keystone Community Food Center acquired the property at 1790-1800 University Avenue and started renovating the old furniture store and transmission shop that had inhabited the location.
McKeown said that the site was selected based on community comments that proximity to accessible transportation was vital, and because it would offer a bigger retail space and storage facility.
In October of 2020, Keystone Community Services started fundraising for the new food shelf and has received donations from the Best Buy Foundation, Allianz North America-Minnesota United, and the Hardenbergh Foundation.
Community Development Block Grant funding was provided by the city to assist and support low-income neighborhoods. McKeown said that with the assistance of the city, the food center would likely begin renovations in January and expand existing programs in addition to developing new ones.
While existing Keystone centers will continue to operate, the Keystone Community Food Center is scheduled to open in the autumn of 2023.