Ruth Free Store slated to move, will add diner
The store will move one door down to 1419 Belknap St.
SUPERIOR — The Ruth Free Store will move into a new building, one door down, by April 2.
With nearly twice the footprint of the current store, the space at 1419 Belknap St. will also house the Ruth Diner. Free lunch and dinner will be served daily in the sectioned-off diner area.
The same landlord owns both buildings and allowed the free store, an offshoot of Walking Victorious Ministries, to change leases to the 1419 Belknap site, according to Pastor Jack Swonger of Walking Victorious Ministries.
Meals will be prepared in the Ruth House’s serve-safe kitchen and brought to the space. Swonger likened it to a church social type of meal service, with the added bonus of being able to shop during the meal.
Ruth House has been providing free daily dinners at 632 Grand Ave. since the pandemic began. Recent meals have included stuffed salmon with herb rice, pizza with salad and dessert, and biscuits and gravy with scrambled eggs and fruit.
“We operate on what we’re given. We rarely have to purchase anything at this point," said Chrissy Foster, Ruth House manager and Walking Victorious program coordinator.
The ministry serves up to 50 meals a night. Foster said she expects that number to grow in the new Ruth Diner space because it is right on a bus line. Lunch will be served every day except Sunday.
The Ruth Free Store opened Jan. 5 at 1423 Belknap St. and quickly grew.
“Our shelves were full within three days,” Swonger said.
Donations continue to flow in and out of the ministry. Whole congregations have stepped up to volunteer for a day. Many donate time regularly to the store.
“I like to see the city come in, the people who live (here) and they need things and we have them and there’s no judgment … they take what they need. I like to see that,” said regular volunteer Jane Matejka, who retired from the Superior School District in June 2021.
Needed items include tables and shelving units as well as household goods, hygiene items and cosmetics. Swonger said even half-empty bottles of shampoo or open packs of diapers are accepted.
When the free store moves to the new space, the receiving area for the donations will be behind the building.
The Ruth House on Grand Avenue also serves as a sober drop-in center by day and overnight warming center. Recently, it has been serving about seven people per night.
“This is a nondenominational, interdenominational ministry. We’re here to support the ministries that are already here,” Swonger said. “We’re not here to replace a ministry. We’re here to help fill a need where there’s void spots.”
Their goal, he said, is to bring the community closer together.
“And at the same time, people are being blessed with meals, people are being blessed with clothing, some appliances. But most of all they’re greeted with a smile and most of all they leave with a smile. That’s the reward in itself,” Swonger said. “It’s more of a blessing to give than receive.”
Visit the Ruth House-Twin Ports and Ruth Free Store Facebook pages; contact Swonger at 218-221-4636 or Foster at 218-408-3766; or stop by Ruth House at 632 Grand Ave. for more information or to volunteer.