The Simpson Food Pantry has been combating hunger for more than 50 years from 2740 1st Avenue South in the Whittier Neighborhood. The pantry, in partnership with Park Avenue and Iglisia Piedra Viva provide quality food assistance and other resources to over 2000 guests monthly. Due to the current condition to our 140-year-old building the repairs needed far exceed the property value.
The current owners, Simpson Housing Services have decided to rebuild. Unfortunately, the footprint of the new building will not accommodate the pantries current size of 2500 square feet or any further growth. We have an immediate need of funding and donations to relocate in the Whittier neighborhood or in close proximity. Demolition will begin by fall of 2022 or early 2023.
Over 60 years ago, Simpson United Methodist Church, established in 1882, recognized the need to combat hunger in the South Minneapolis area. In the early 70’s a small area under the stairs in the basement of the church was commissioned as the Simpson Food Shelve. With 150 square feet and one 7.5 cubic foot freezer, they started serving some 30 guests a month who needed assistance with food insecurity.
By 1980, the pantry was serving 400 to 500 guests each month. It was at that time that Simpson United Methodist Church recognized a need for shelter and opened the Simpson Shelter. With the need to now accommodate the homeless shelter and the growing need for food, the pantry moved into a space of 452 square feet and enhanced the freezer space to 24 cubic feet.
By the early 2000’s, the 140-year-old Simpson Church building was literally disintegrating from the foundation to the steeple. It was decided by the Simpson Congregation that it was no longer cost effective to continue to put more and more money toward trying to maintain the building. It was decided that their financial resources would be dedicated to the greater mission of Simpson Church to serve the needs of the South Minneapolis community into the future. The decision was made to close the church and donate the property to Simpson Housing Services (SHS). This allowed SHS to move toward building a new facility that could house both the shelter and low-income transitional housing under one roof.
In addition, the Simpson Food Pantry could expand into a larger more efficient and accessible space, including space for other supportive services. However, when SHS was unable to purchase additional land to the north of the church building, and new zoning restrictions were mandated by the city, the original square footage for the new building was reduced considerably.
In 2020 the tragic killing of George Floyd, just several blocks from Simpson, and the resulting civil unrest and destruction in the area, the Simpson Pantry found itself in the middle of a “food desert.” With the rapid spread and economic impact of COVID 19, the Simpson Food Pantry became a central location for South Minneapolis and surrounding area residents both individuals and families, to find support in the face of growing food insecurity. In a matter of months, the number of guests being served increased by four hundred percent. Today, Simpson Food Pantry serves over 2500 people monthly using 2500 square feet and 195 cubic feet of freezer space.
The concern over food insecurity and the increasing need to fight hunger in the South Minneapolis community shows no signs of stopping. The new building plans for SHS will not provide adequate space to house Simpson Food Pantry as it exists today, and as it will need to change in the near future to continue to serve the needs of its neighbors. The Simpson Food Pantry will need to relocate to a facility of 3000 to 5000 square feet within or in very close proximity to the Whittier Neighborhood, where it now serves.
In addition to the need for a larger permanent space, the Food Pantry is looking to improve its services to better respond to the interests and needs of its clients. There are plans to expand Food Rescue Program to include a vehicle for more consistent and increased pickup of fresh foods. This would allow for the development of a culturally specific self-shopping experience that would be open five days a week to better respond to the needs of the community. This plan will enable expanded weekend hours, adding an additional staff member, creating and maintaining a rotating volunteer program, and expanding our remote pop-up locations, such as currently exists in partnership with Park Avenue United Methodist Church and Iglesia Piedra Viva.
The need for the Simpson Food Pantry to move to a new location that can meet the current and near-future plans is immediate. Demolition of the current Simpson Church building and construction of the new Simpson Housing Services facility is currently scheduled for the end of 2022 or early 2023.
We ask that you contact the office directly before delivering your food donations. Because of parking restraints around our location, we will make arrangements so your able to park close to one of our entrances. We can also get a team to assist with unloading.
We are always grateful for our volunteers who like to greet our guests. Assist our guest with requests, Rotate, stock and clean shelves. Assist our guest up and down our stairs and to their cars. We also need volunteers on Tuesday for our Food Rescue Program.