In two hours, forty-five minutes, 2,400 boxes of food, and milk, were distributed to any who lined up in their vehicles at the Soo Pass Ranch, home of WE Fest.

The food giveaway on Monday, March 22, was a part of the Farmers to Families food box program, a program sponsored by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, that was created to purchase produce from farmers and distribute it to communities during the pandemic.

"It takes a community to feed a community," said Misti Rose, project coordinator for the event. "I have a great team."

Misti Rose, event coordinator, directs traffic during the Farmers to Families food box giveaway event at Soo Pass Ranch on Monday, March 22, 2021. (Michael Achterling / Tribune)
Misti Rose, event coordinator, directs traffic during the Farmers to Families food box giveaway event at Soo Pass Ranch on Monday, March 22, 2021. (Michael Achterling / Tribune)

Cars lined up along the County Road 22 shoulder beginning at 4 p.m. and stretched more than a mile toward County Road 6.

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The nearly 60 volunteers at the event loaded up the initial line of more than 400 cars with their food boxes in 41 minutes. In total, around 800 vehicles made their way through the WE Fest concert grounds and received boxes of food and milk.

When describing the change of venue from their first giveaway event, Rose said Soo Pass Ranch made a "night and day" difference.

Cars line up along County Road 22, south of Detroit Lakes, during the Farmers to Families food box giveaway event at Soo Pass Ranch on Monday, March 22, 2021. (Michael Achterling / Tribune)
Cars line up along County Road 22, south of Detroit Lakes, during the Farmers to Families food box giveaway event at Soo Pass Ranch on Monday, March 22, 2021. (Michael Achterling / Tribune)

Matt Mithun, owner of the Soo Pass Ranch, allowed his property to be used for the event without hesitation after talking with Rose about a change of venue from their first giveaway in February at the Boys and Girls Club thrift store. That event caused traffic congestion with their line of 900 cars stretching along Highway 10 and Highway 59.

"All the volunteers had orange shirts on, high visibility, it gets to be a safety issue," said Dave Suppa, manager at the Soo Pass Ranch. "We've got a good relationship with (Becker County) Sheriff Glander and Captain (Brian) Cheney of the Highway Patrol and they were all excited that we were having it here, and out of town."

Mithun also sponsored bright orange T-shirts for volunteers, which they acquired through Lakeshirts in Detroit Lakes.

"We just want to support the community and get the community behind us again," said Suppa. "We're going to have another one, I believe April 19th, and we're hoping we have it out here and can support the community, they're supporting us for all these years so it's kind of give back time."

Volunteers also provided flyers to every vehicle about local community resources for people struggling during the pandemic. Some of the volunteers for the event were residents of Detroit Lakes area nonprofits The Refuge and Compassion House, but others just wanted to donate their time to help members of their community.

"I think there is a lot of need for (food) out there right now during the COVID and, just in general, there is a lot of need in the community," said Georgia Geving, event volunteer. "There is food out there for everybody, so come on in when it's offered and take advantage of it because we're here for you and everybody is going through hard times right now."

Area groups like the Disabled American Veterans, VFW, Lakes Crisis Center, the Boys and Girls Club, Engaged Senior program, Ecumen and Lincoln Park all signed up to receive designated allotments of food boxes.