Greetings from Ruby's Heart!  
Ruby's Heart

Volunteer Newsletter FALL 2019

Greetings Valued Volunteer!

Thank you for all your hard work this summer!!

Lines from Lyn

Greetings Friends!

Our Annual Conference is only two weeks away and it is at the North Heights Lutheran Church in Arden Hills, which is on the North side of the Twin Cities. The conference is being held Friday and Saturday, October 4th and 5th, and includes Dan and Sandy Adler from the Heart of the City Band, Kimberly Brown, three-time Grammy Award winner, and Londa Lundstrom, daughter of Lowell and Connie Lundstrom known as an International Speaker and Worship leader, and is currently the Pastor at The Father’s House in Burnsville. Our speakers include Dennis Frandsen, CEO of Frandsen Banks and multiple businesses, Mike Lynch who does disaster relief around the world, as well as Gaye Lindfors, who has lead a human resources department that supported 11,000 airline employees, served as a special assistant to a college president, served as president of the National Speakers Association, MN Chapter and as the Midwest Regional Director for Christian Women in Media. These musicians and speakers are terrific! And the best part, YOU ARE INVITED TO ATTEND. Call Tracy today at 651-842-9314 or 651-674-0009 to register, as the conference is only two weeks away and there is only a $20 fee to attend.

Fall is here and we are running strong and fast. As we have grown, we have added new positions to help with the workload. We are excited to announce that we are fully staffed and working hard to serve 20,000 families a month equaling about 600,000 individuals annually. This is an awesome number and we are so, so thankful to all our volunteers for the amazing job they do. Our staff is working hard to ensure we have plenty of food for the continued increase in attendance at all of our Pop-up Pantry sites.

We have also encountered major work over the summer which involved roofing repairs from hail damage. This hit seven of our buildings and has been a major, major repair effort and cost. We purchased four semi tractors and six semi-trailers this summer and we could use about eight more. The cost has been enormous. With the help of friends of the ministry, we are moving forward. If you are interested in finding out more or how you can help, please contact our office.

We also installed two large fuel tanks at our North Branch Warehouse.  Now the fuel is delivered to the fuel tanks and we no longer have to stop and fuel the trucks and trailer on the road. This will save us an estimated $22,000 per year. This is also wonderful!

As we approach the end of the year, we have many, many things to prepare for including Thanksgiving and Christmas. We hope all of you are also preparing for these magnificent seasons of family blessings.


Lyn Sahr
Founder and Executive Director

Staff Story & Site Highlight

Welcome Julie
Written by Ruth Schmeckpeper

Ruby’s Pantry Waupaca Distribution Center has a new face. Julie Netzel is leading the team in her role as Distribution Center Manager. She brings a rich Ruby’s Pantry background to the job as she has been a guest, a volunteer for Clintonville, WI and continues to be a co-site leader for Greenville, WI. She brings a strong love of the Lord, organizational skills, energy, a passion for helping others and the understanding of what it feels like to be a guest.

Julie’s story began ten years ago when a friend invited her, a single mom raising three boys and struggling financially, to visit a Ruby’s Pantry in a neighboring town. Impressed with the quantity of food she took home, the respectful way people treated her, and the fancy artisan bread she fell in love with, Julie returned each month for help and fellowship. 

Waiting for her turn to go through the selection line, Julie watched the Ruby’s Pantry team serve and minister to the needs of guests. Pastors mingled, gospel music played, guests fellowshipped and became a family. I should volunteer, she thought, but vulnerability lingering from her recent divorce silenced her. However, over time, her confidence grew. She was encouraged to take the next step when she received a five-gallon pail of hard-boiled eggs. She knew her family would never eat them all so she started passing them out to friends. That opened the usual, “Where did you get this food?” and so began Julie’s mission to spread the word and invite others.

For the next several years, Julie continued to visit Ruby’s Pantry and invite others until it closed its doors in 2012. She and all the friends she had shared this resource with knew the value of Ruby’s Pantry services and how much it would be missed. They began making the forty-five minute drive to Clintonville, the site of the next closest pantry. In Clintonville, Julie and friends began to volunteer as line distributors. She became the “Bread Lady”. 

Julie and friends began to think, we could do this in our community. Her church, Shepherd of the Hills, had a large gym that would work well and was being under-utilized at the time. Looking back now, God had a plan for the church and it was Ruby’s Pantry. 

With God’s help, she and her best friend, Michele Matz, laid the foundation for promoting and opening the Ruby’s Pantry in Greenville.

The Greenville site opened June 1, 2013. This date, June 1, holds special meaning for Julie because of its connection with her grandmother, the mentor who inspired and taught Julie to be “Jesus in the flesh” to others. It was Grandma Meta’s birthday, her confirmation date, her wedding day, and even the day she went home to her Lord. Later, it was also the day Julie started full time at Ruby’s Pantry in 2019.

Jesus with Skin

Each month 70 to 120 volunteers meet to set up the event, pray together, and serve the needs of those who come. During the devotions, Julie and Michele remind the volunteers, “Love on them. Use their names since it is the most precious sound to their ears.” They also lift volunteers by reminding them, “You are awesome. We couldn’t do this without you. You are Jesus with skin.” 

“I think it is good I’ve been full circle,” Julie explains. “I know what it feels like to be in that chair, what courage it takes to come, and how defeated some individuals may feel. I’ve been to pantries where I’ve had to fight the ‘you make too much money for this’ argument and jump through numerous hoops. Each of those experiences tends to diminish you as a person. Choices are taken away. I want this to be different−a gentle, loving experience. No one is turned away. We use name tags and call people by name. In an effort to treat everyone who comes like royalty, each guest is “touched” by at least a dozen caring volunteers throughout the experience.”

Julie says, “Anyone who knows God feels His presence at the pantry. There are no words to explain what truly happens at a Ruby’s Pantry every month. You’d have to come and experience it to understand it. There’s so much love going on. One time an escort stopped the line for us to sing happy birthday to a guest. The lady behind the birthday friend was crying because she was so touched by the compassion shown.

“Every month there are people in tears because they are so grateful and overwhelmed by the groceries they’ve been given. Stories of people’s hardships are shared − the family down to the last two boxes of macaroni and cheese, car issues, or doctor bills that won’t go away. At the Greenville site, we provide a resource table of flyers with current contact information for all the services families might find helpful. Food usually isn’t their only need. We don’t just feed their bellies, we also feed their souls.

The Faith Transformation

“When I started being a site leader, I worried about everything,” Julie admits. “I didn’t sleep for days. Would there be enough volunteers? Would the truck be on time? Everything. Now, it’s the one thing I don’t worry about in my life. I just go and know God’s going to make it work. And He always does. We turn our struggles over to Him and He uses them to make us stronger and our ministry more effective. I have experienced it happening again and again.” 

One of Julie’s favorite inspirational stories is one of the stories told by Lyn Sahr, founder of Ruby’s Pantry. “With several sites expecting food the following day, Lyn stood in an empty warehouse and prayed, ‘God, you said we were doing this. You’ve got a problem.’ Within minutes, the phone began to ring and trucks were filled for the distributions that weekend.” 

That’s the way of Ruby’s Pantry. Rather than complaining, trust God and know He will provide.

The Hand of God

Julie says, “God’s hand continues to lead me. I had been working at a Christian preschool/daycare and was feeling a pull of change in my life. Having just come through a divorce, my life was changing, but my walk with the Lord was becoming stronger. Although introducing children to Jesus was a strong passion, Ruby’s Pantry was equally as strong. Many people have heard me say, ‘If I could work with Ruby’s Pantry that would be my dream job.’”

Julie and her friend Michele went to the new Luxemburg site to help with their first distribution. That day Michele mentioned to Kari Vanden Heuvel, the Program Coordinator for Ruby’s Pantry, that Julie may be looking for a new career and had always dreamed of working for Ruby’s Pantry. 

Kari connected with Julie and Lyn Sahr about the open position for the Waupaca Distribution Center Manager. Julie was hired and began her dream job with Ruby’s Pantry June 1, 2019.

“Since I have taken this position, there has been a great peace that I have never felt before, even in all the chaos. That affirms in my heart that this is the place for me. I’m very excited for what God has in store for Ruby’s Pantry.”


Message from Martha

Fall is here, cool weather, beautiful colors, crisp, cool air, I think this is my favorite season of the year. The summer has flown by! I want to thank the many sites that have invited me to attend their Volunteer Appreciation events! It has been so much fun to meet so many wonderful people and get to revisit with those I have met before! With the help of numerous staff, we have had the privilege of visiting over 60 sites this summer and hope to visit more this fall. If you have not seen someone from our office, we may still be heading your direction this fall.

I am amazed at the hard work each volunteer does and how modest everyone is. Every volunteer matters and the work you each are doing makes a huge difference in your communities. I have seen this as I have visited with many people. I love seeing the pride in your Pop-Up Pantry’s and in your communities. I am repeatedly reminded that God is in charge and always seems to place the right people in the right positions! You each bring amazing talents and gifts to your sites.

As fall continues, I am hoping to see many people at the conference. We have some new and exciting things that will be changing and you will want to know how this will impact your site and your position at your site! We have many wonderful speakers and musicians that will make this the event to attend! If you are interested in attending please contact our office.

A huge welcome to the Austin, MN site! They are the newest site to start and had their first distribution on September 19!

Please send in your fun pictures and recipes! If you have something that has worked well at your site, please send me some information! It is fun to share this information and when we share ideas amazing things can happen. Send ideas, pictures and recipes to

I would like to take the time to thank all of the great volunteers. Always remember that your actions speak volumes to the guests that you are in contact with. Please keep in mind that many of the guests at your Pop-Up Pantry do not have a church home, you can even consider inviting them to attend your church.

So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. 1 Corinthians 10:31

Martha Kruse
Volunteer Coordinator

Todd's Tips

Fall Season Safety Tips – Safely Enjoy the Beautiful Season

As the air turns cooler and leaves drop from the trees, it's important to keep a few important fall safety tips in mind. With proper precautions and safety awareness, your family can enjoy that crisp autumn weather while avoiding some of the dangers that come with the season. 

By keeping these important fall safety tips in mind, you can be sure you are doing everything you can to protect yourself and your family from seasonal dangers. This will leave your mind free to enjoy the beauty of this glorious season.

Service Your Furnace

Before the cold autumn and winter weather sets in, be sure to call your heating and cooling company to service your furnace. A specialist should inspect the furnace to make sure everything is in working order and that there are no leaks.

Use Caution with Space Heaters

A space heater can be an effective way to warm up a chilly room, but it's essential that you read the instructions on the unit before you use it. If your space heater requires venting, make sure you have vented it to the outdoors. Never use your stove or oven to heat your home; only use space heaters that are approved for this purpose. Always allow at least three feet of empty area around space heaters.

Use Fireplaces Safely

Keep that fire in its proper place by using a fireplace screen to keep sparks from flying out of the fireplace. Never leave a burning fire unattended, and make sure a fire in a fireplace is completely out before going to bed.

Exercise Candle Caution

Candles are a great way to give a room that warm glow, but they can also cause fires. According to the National Candle Association, almost 10,000 home fires start with improper candle use. Never leave candles burning if you go out or go to sleep, and keep your candles away from pets and kids.

Change Smoke Alarm Batteries

Change the batteries in your smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors when you turn back your clocks for Daylight Saving Time. Make sure to check the alarms with the new batteries installed. Check and replace any home fire extinguishers that have expired.

Ruby's Recipes

Submitted by the Menahga MN Pop-Up Pantry

  • 1 lb hamburger
  • 4 c diced potatoes
  • 3 lg carrots (cut into thin strips)
  • 1 onion (thinly sliced)
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Divide the hamburger into four portions and make into patties. Place on four pieces of tinfoil. Add 1 cup potatoes, some carrots and onion slices to each burger then season with salt and pepper. The Wee Willie seasoning we got last month works great on this recipe! Fold foil and place on heated grill for about 30 minutes turning once. Enjoy!

Submitted by the Menahga MN Pop-Up Pantry

Layer the following in large casserole dish:
  • 5-6 c potatoes
  • 1/2 c raw rice (I use the rice mix from Ruby's)
  • 1 lb hamburger
  • Onions (desired amount)
Mix together and pour over layers in casserole:
  • 1 can cream of chicken soup
  • 2 - 2 1/2 c water
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp sugar
Bake 1 1/2 hours at 350°F

Welcome Austin MN Pop-Up Pantry!

The Austin MN volunteers started serving their community on September 19, 2019.

Welcome Sherburn MN Pop-Up Pantry!

The Sherburn MN volunteers started serving their community on June 17, 2019.

Volunteer Appreciation Events

Pictures from the Cohasset Pop-Up Pantry Volunteer Appreciation Event:

Pictures from the Eau Claire Pop-Up Pantry Volunteer Appreciation Event:

This last picture is of when the truck comes in and our volunteers are ready to get started.

Pictures from the Fergus Falls Pop-Up Pantry Volunteer Appreciation Event and One Year Anniversary:

Pictures from the Hibbing Pop-Up Pantry Volunteer Appreciation Event:

Pictures from the Laporte Pop-Up Pantry Volunteer Appreciation Event and One Year Anniversary:

Pictures from the Luck Pop-Up Pantry Volunteer Appreciation Event:

Pictures from the New Richmond Pop-Up Pantry Volunteer Appreciation Event:

Pictures from the Siren Food Shelf and Ruby's Second Hand Volunteer Appreciation Event:

Pictures of the Mondovi Pop-Up Pantry Volunteer of the Month for July and August:



Volunteer Pictures

Pictures from the Bemidji Pop-Up Pantry Site Visit:

Pictures from the Cumberland Pop-Up Pantry Site Visit:

Pictures from the Detroit Lakes Pop-Up Pantry Site Visit:

Pictures from the Elk Mound Pop-Up Pantry Site Visit:

Pictures from the International Falls Pop-Up Pantry 4th of July:


Pictures from the Moorhead Pop-Up Pantry Site Visit:

Pictures from the Platteville Pop-Up Pantry Site Visit:

Ruby's Reminders

A huge shout-out to thank all the volunteers for the hard work over the summer! As we go into fall and the holidays, please send in fun fall pictures and recipes and that can be shared in the next newsletter. I love to see multi-generational pictures! If your site is doing something unique please let me know! That idea may help other sites as well. Please send your pictures, recipes and feedback to

Martha Kruse
Volunteer and Data Coordinator

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Our mailing address is:

Home & Away Ministries / Ruby's Heart / Ruby's Pantry
5833 Pecan St
North Branch MN 55056