Welcome Pantry

A variety of nutritious, fresh foods are displayed appealing on a flat surface.

Visiting the Welcome Pantry 

The Welcome Pantry is an all-new food shelf in Freeborn County. Previously, shoppers were attending a mobile format that was held at the Armory. The Welcome Pantry has now moved into its permanent home at 411 1st Ave South, Suite A, Albert Lea, MN 56007, in what is known as the “old Streaters' Building."


The Welcome Pantry is open for indoor shopping on Mondays and Thursdays from 3:00 to 6:00 PM and the 3rd Saturday of each month from 9:00 AM to Noon.


No appointment is needed. If this is your first visit, we will ask you to complete a one time registration process. This process takes 3 to 5 minutes and you do not need to bring any documentation. At the end of this registration, you will receive a shopper card with a number that you can use to check in each time you come to visit for shopping.


Shoppers may visit twice a month during the days and times we are open. It is up to the shopper to decide when those visits take place.


When you shop, you can expect to find signs at each "station". These signs let shoppers know how much of an item they can take. This is based on household size. The limits will change from week to week depending on availability, how long the food will last, etc.


Your food choices may differ from another shopper’s food choices. For example, we may be able to get apples, and shoppers may be able to choose apples for their produce. When the apples are gone, we work to offer another choice, such as bananas. It is our goal to offer a variety of fresh, nutritious foods.


Please bring shopping bags or boxes to pick up your food. Due to space limitations, we ask that you do not bring wagons, wheeled carts or similar items into the pantry. Shopping carts are provided, and we will assist as much as possible with carrying out groceries.


For the safety of our shoppers, volunteers, and staff, please do not arrive onto the property more than 30 minutes before the Welcome Pantry opens.


Currently there is handicapped accessibility on the side of the building. Please follow signage and directions from volunteers. We hope to have improved accessibility later this year.


Food resources in the county can be found on our website at http://unitedwayfc.org/food



If you have any questions or concerns about the Welcome Pantry, please reach out to our Food Shelf staff at 507-373-8670.


Sending a Proxy to Pick Up Food

If it is difficult to visit the Food Shelf in person, shoppers have the option to select someone else to pick up their food. That person is their proxy. Shoppers have the right to choose who can pick their food. Shoppers can also cancel permission for a proxy at any time by contacting Food Shelf staff. You may choose who your Proxy is by giving their name at the time of registration, or if you are unable to come in person, please call 507-373-8670 to set it up. Please note that we must speak directly to the individual receiving food before the proxy may shop. We can do this by telephone, but it will not be during pantry hours. Please contact our Food Shelf staff in advance to make a plan for shopping.


Social Service Professionals

Caseworkers, community health workers, home health aides and other social service professionals can serve as a proxy for their clients. Proxies may shop for their clients or pick up boxes of groceries from the Food Shelf. 


For more information, social service professionals can contact one of our Food Shelf staff members, Nikolle Guion at 507-373-8670. You may also reach her by email: nikolle@unitedwayfc.org.


Food Shelf Eligibility

The Welcome Pantry follows The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP) eligibility guidelines. We serve households who are at or below 300% of the poverty level.


I am eligible to receive TEFAP commodity food because:

  • I am in Minnesota and
  • My household income is 300% or less of the Federal Poverty Guidelines.


I am also eligible if I receive or participate in the following services and programs:



The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP) Eligibility Information

PDFs containing eligibility information for the TEFAP program can be found below in various languages. For interpretation services, please call the Minnesota Food HelpLine at 1-888-711-1151.



Eligibility Information



Formulario De Elegibilidad



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Анкета права потребная (USDA)