AMEN Food Pantry praises its pioneers and volunteers

A luncheon was hosted by AMEN Food Pantry as a way to honor and recognize their current and original staff members and recognize their devotion to the Dickinson community.

A volunteer shakes the hand of AMEN Food Pantry Director Scharlie Kilzer during a celebratory luncheon saluting the pantry's volunteers on April 26, 2023.
Contributed / Robyn McChesney

DICKINSON- AMEN Food Pantry has a rich history of nourishing those in need in the Dickinson community and the volunteers, some of which have served for over 30 years, were honored and saluted as longtime pantry pioneers with a luncheon celebration on Apr 26, 2023

Seven of the volunteers recognized at the luncheon have certainly earned their pioneer titles, generously providing food to those in need in Dickinson for the last 37 years.

Marcia Frank is one founding volunteer who recalled a story from the very first pantry that she established at St.John’s Lutheran Church in the early 80s.

Bottom left: Erv Bren, Art Warner, Marcia Frank Shirley Brentrup, with Erv and Marilyn Kessel in the center smile among other board members at the AMEN Food Pantry luncheon celebration on April 26, 2023.
Contributed / Robyn McChesney

A man approached the pantry hungry and in desperate need of food for himself and his family. Frank acted quickly and assembled an impromptu meal for him using ingredients on hand from the pantry.

The man's gratitude for her actions is what inspired Frank to expand the pantry to include additional church volunteers and community leaders said Frank, eventually growing the pantry to the size it is today.


As the pantry expanded, Shirley Brentrup, a Community Action Partnership social worker, joined Frank working to organize community leaders and join forces as a non-profit to serve those in need within the community.

Erv Bren, Executive Director of Community Action, commended Brentrup and her dedication to organizing the core group of pioneers.

The pantry's first set of walls was provided by Bren’s organization, providing a building but also a space of support to house things like food distribution, staffing and meeting agendas.

As the pantry continued to grow, the pantry association reorganized in 1986 and The Association to Meet Emergency Needs (AMEN) was born, named by Art Warner who became aware of the community's need for food in his job service position.

Marilyn and Erv Kessel were involved with the food pantry early on and served alongside Ron and George Keller as board members for the organization for over three decades.

Erv Kessel recalls the long hours Marilyn spent at the pantry, nearly working herself to the bone. He said she would spend so much time at the pantry she lost weight because she was never home.

Ultimately the staff at Amen Food Pantry feel indebted to the pioneers whose shoulders they said they stand on today.

“We thank and salute you for your love and devotion to the Dickinson Community,” said Amen Food Pantry staff.


AMEN Food Pantry Director Scharlie Kilzer showing the memorial booklet given to each pioneer at the luncheon celebration on April 26, 2023.
Contributed / Robyn McChesney

Allison is a news reporter from Phoenix, Arizona where she earned a degree in journalism from the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University. After college, she worked as a middle school writing teacher in the valley. She has made her way around the U.S. driving from Arizona to Minnesota and eventually finding herself here in Dickinson. She has a passion for storytelling and enjoys covering community news.
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