“The need has never been greater.” —Michelle Bottenfield, director of the Westonka Food Shelf
“It’s an amazing thing what our community is doing out here,” says Michelle Bottenfield, director of the Westonka Food Shelf, where one doesn’t find highly processed items but instead is greeted by hundreds of fresh fruits and vegetables plus more traditional options.
Westonka Food Shelf began serving the west Metro area 54 years ago. Today, it serves communities, including Independence, Minnetonka Beach, Minnetrista, Mound, Navarre, parts of Orono, Spring Park, St. Bonifacius and Tonka Bay.
As one of its two employees at Westonka, Bottenfield of Mound works from dawn to dusk, wearing multiple hats on behalf of the nonprofit, which is 99 percent volunteer run and requires over 700 annual volunteers to cover outreach efforts. Her passion for keeping the food shelf’s doors open has led her to champion many new fundraising initiatives and develop local grocer partnerships.
Volunteer Joann Hall Swenson describes Bottenfield as “vibrant” and says, “She is continually thinking about making people’s lives better and serving with respect.” Bottenfield became director four years ago but has been serving the food shelf for a decade. She believes that the food shelf should be a welcoming place for everyone. “We have worked really hard to remove the barriers to food access,” she says.
The food shelf is open Mondays through Saturdays. It is a certified SuperShelf, meaning it strives to provide fresh and nourishing items. “The need has never been greater,” Bottenfield says. In 2022, it distributed over a million pounds of food to nearly 3,000 families.
In terms of giving opportunities, note that $1 donated translates to $9 worth of groceries. According to the website, the buying power is enhanced due to relationships with local food banks.
Volunteers pick up produce weekly from 15 local grocer partners. “I once had a patron say, ‘I have never been able to eat like this,’” Bottenfield says. The food shelf’s Health Equity Initiative focuses on distributing larger quantities of fresh produce in a community outreach effort. This is supported through its summer farmers markets, garden plots and donations from local farms.
Bottenfield explains that the goal is to raise enough money to purchase a box truck that will allow the food shelf to refrigerate produce for extended periods, allowing for additional local grocer partnerships and more events.
To learn more, visit the website, or call for volunteer inquiries, financial or food donations and other information.
The Westonka Food Shelf will host its second benefit concert from noon–10 p.m. August 26 at Back Channel Brewing Co., 4787 Shoreline Drive in Spring Park. The event will feature, among others, Lamont Cranston as the headliner, the Back Water Drifters will be the warmup band and other bands will perform throughout the day. Attendees can expect three food trucks to add to the festivities.
Westonka Food Shelf
2385 Commerce Blvd., 952.472.5599