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Amen Food Pantry in need: The Dickinson Press to host CanArtopia

The one thing the Amen Food Pantry isn't in need of is tomato soup, said manager Susie Kaperlovitz as she views the shelves Saturday morning. Shelves that are normally full at the pantry in Dickinson now sit empty, and The DIckinson Press is hosting CanArtopia to help replenish the organization's supply.

Clay, marble and cans of peas are just some of the things used to build amazing sculptures, but only the cans of the peas can be brought to the Amen Food Pantry and then distributed to those in need in the community.

On Oct. 22, The Dickinson Press will host CanArtopia, a community art show and contest, in an effort to fill the Amen Food Pantry. Up to 30 teams can register to create artworks out of nonperishable food items that will be judged by members of the community, Publisher Harvey Brock said.

"We're really excited to partner with Amen Food Pantry in this project and allow the whole community to help restock the shelves," Brock said. "It gives an opportunity for somebody who has an artistic touch or just wants to have fun to get together and have fun building something."

The event will be held at the Henry Biesiot Activities Center.

"We're excited to be able to help and bring the community in and put together a food drive for the local food pantry," said Ben Shroyer, events and conference coordinator for the BAC.

Teams will have to provide the sculpting material and will have a set amount of time on the day of the event before the public will be allowed in to view and judge the works, Brock said.

The Amen Inc., A.M.E.N. meaning Association to Meet Emergency Needs, has more than quadrupled its output in the last three years, said Ron Keller, president of the volunteer board that runs the pantry.

"About two years ago, on an average month for the food pantry, we would give out about 1,500 pounds," Keller said. "Now we are averaging consistently over 6,500 pounds per month."

Those that utilize the food pantry need recommendations from a social services agency or a church, Keller said.

Food drives at local schools, churches and businesses usually begin filling the shelves during the holiday season, which last the pantry until April. That's when the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts collect for Amen Inc., which fills its shelves until the U.S. Postal Service food drive in May, Keller said.

"That kind of replenishes us until about this time," Keller said. "Then the cycle is -- Mother Hubbard's cupboard is bare again -- from September until November, for about eight to 10 weeks, there are some times that -- people just may not get the quantity of what we've been putting out."

And the pantry doesn't just need nonperishable food items -- it takes eggs, dairy and fresh produce, hygiene items and paper products, Keller said.

"There's one thing we don't need and that's tomato soup," Keller said. "I think we have enough tomato soup that we could feed the National Guard here for about two or three weekends."

Amen will take extra fresh garden produce, but doesn't take home processed or baked goods like pickles or cookies because of safety concerns, Keller said.

"I'm sure that the people that we give it to wash it and do all of the things needed" to prepare fresh produce, Keller said.

There were several empty shelves at the Amen Food Pantry on Saturday morning. Shelves that are normally full of mac and cheese or paper products were near bare.

Amen partners with Fargo-based Great Plains Food Bank, and is expecting a large shipment on Monday, manager Susie Kaperlovitz said.

The Amen Food Pantry is open on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. and on Saturdays from 10 a.m. to noon. For more information about volunteering or donating, call the food bank at 701-483-4344 and leave a message.

To participate in CanArtopia register by Oct. 15 by calling 701-456-1218 or 701-456-1201.

"We are so elated, so happy that The Dickinson Press is stepping up -- and it doesn't surprise me," Keller said. "I've been on the board for 27 years -- since the inception of Amen Inc. Anytime we kind of put out the smoke signals that we're in need, somebody always steps up."

Katherine Grandstrand
I graduated from Bemidji State University in 2007 with a bachelor's degree in mass communcations, from Columbia College Chicago in 2009 with a master's degree in journalism.  
(701) 456-1206