Food pantry breaks ground on new building

The Becker County Food Pantry will be getting a new building. About two dozen people gathered to break ground at the site of the new food pantry on Wednesday, May 24.

Food Pantry Groundbreaking.JPG
Former Becker County Food Pantry Director Jack Berenz tossed his shovel full of dirt high into the air at a groundbreaking ceremony for the new pantry building on Terry Street, which was hosted by the Detroit Lakes Regional Chamber of Commerce on Wednesday, May 24, 2023.
Vicki Gerdes / Detroit Lakes Tribune

DETROIT LAKES — After 40 years of operation, the nonprofit Becker County Food Pantry will soon have a new, permanent home.

A little over two dozen food pantry volunteers, city of Detroit Lakes and Becker County officials, contractors, chamber of commerce ambassadors and other well-wishers gathered on Wednesday, May 24, at the site of the new food pantry building to break ground on the facility, which will be constructed by local contractor Foltz Buildings.

The capacity of the new building at 610 Terry St., Detroit Lakes, will be roughly twice that of the existing facility on Rossman Avenue. Since 1999, the 40-year-old Becker County Food Pantry has been located in a former city public waterworks building next to the Minnesota Flyers Gymnastics facility at the Becker County Fairgrounds site — but a steady increase in usage over the past couple of decades has caused the pantry to outgrow its existing space.

The new building will be roughly split between a storage area and a shopping area, with bathrooms, a utility room, an office and a small conference room and break room in the middle, as shown in the design drawings released by the food pantry after the groundbreaking.

Food Pantry - Street View.jpg
This drawing from Foltz Buildings, Inc., shows what the new Becker County Food Pantry will look like from the outside.
Contributed / Becker County Food Pantry


Plans for the building project progressed rapidly over the past year, largely due to donations from both Becker County and the city of Detroit Lakes, which each contributed $250,000 from their American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds for the project, as well as a $75,000 grant award from the Otto Bremer Trust. The rest of the funding came from private donations.

Food Pantry - Overhead View.jpg
This drawing from Foltz Buildings, Inc., shows the layout of the inside of the new Becker County Food Pantry building, which will pretty much be divided equally between storage and shopping areas, with bathrooms, a utility room, an office and a small conference room and break room in the middle.
Contributed / Becker County Food Pantry

Besides increasing storage space — particularly for refrigerated and frozen products — the design of the new building is expected to make the space more customer-friendly and easier to navigate for its older volunteers. The goal is to increase storage space, including refrigeration and freezer space, and improve services. The food pantry would also like to make it more customer-friendly, and easier for its older volunteers.

Dale Storey, president of the food pantry's board of directors, spoke briefly at the groundbreaking ceremony, along with Detroit Lakes Mayor Matt Brenk and Food Pantry Executive Director Brad Carlson.

"I want to thank the board members for trusting me (with the building project)," Storey said, also thanking Carlson and his predecessor, Jack Berenz, for their work as directors of the food pantry, along with the other partners in the project, including the city, county, North Country Food Bank and the other volunteers and donors who made the project a reality.

"It's been a process," he said, likening Wednesday's groundbreaking to Christmas morning. "We're just about to open up our present," he added.

Storey noted after the ceremony that he hopes construction of the new building will be finished in time for its projected "move-in" date of Nov. 1, or possibly sooner, weather permitting.

"I'm looking forward to a ribbon cutting and grand opening this fall," said Brenk during his remarks.

Carlson also thanked all of those who came out for the ribbon cutting, and said jokingly, "After 41 years, we're finally getting there."

A reporter at Detroit Lakes Newspapers since relocating to the community in October 2000, Vicki was promoted to Community News Lead for the Detroit Lakes Tribune and Perham Focus on Jan. 1, 2022. She has covered pretty much every "beat" that a reporter can be assigned, from county board and city council to entertainment, crime and even sports. Born and raised in Madelia, Minnesota, she is a graduate of Hamline University, from which she earned a bachelor's degree in English literature (writing concentration). You can reach her at
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