Food Shelf & Meal Program Support
The Food Group operates as a food bank to purchase food and hygiene items in bulk and distribute them to our partner agencies – over 250 food shelves, meal programs, and hunger relief organizations throughout Minnesota and western Wisconsin.
With a focus on nutrition and equity, The Food Group provides fresh produce, frozen meats, culturally specific food items, and other necessities for our partners and the families they serve. We also provide our partners with free donated food by sourcing bulk donations, collecting surplus fresh produce from farmers, and collecting donated food through community drives.
Questions about our Food Shelf & Meal Program Support area of work? Please contact Trica Leland.
The Food Group partners with 250+ food shelf and meal program partners to distribute culturally appropriate food to our diverse communities. Recent census data shows the percentage of Minnesotans who identify as Hispanic, Asian and African is on the rise—this change in demographics is also being seen in families in need. Through our Cultural Equity programming, we provide foods that are not only nutritious, but also familiar and enjoyed by the families we serve.
We also believe that cultural equity in hunger relief is more than just food. We provide in-person training and resources for our food shelf partners to help ensure food shelves throughout Minnesota are welcoming and truly serving the needs of all in our community.
For information on how to get involved, contact Samty Xiong.
The Food Group leverages a full time registered dietitian on staff to provide nutrition education and consulting to partner agencies and the families they serve. These services include recipe creation, food demonstrations, product merchandising, and technical support in creating healthy food policies. Our dietitian also provides nutritional analysis for all of The Food Group’s programs to ensure that we are providing the healthiest foods possible to our community.
For more information about the Nutritional Outreach program, please contact Karena Gacek.
Direct Service Programs
Fare For All
Fare For All is a social enterprise program that increases access to fresh produce and lean meats in 38 communities throughout Minnesota. Fare for All purchases fresh fruits, vegetables and frozen meat in bulk, and passes on the savings to customers who save up to 40% off grocery store prices. Fare for All is community-supported, volunteer-led, and open to everyone. Because we buy in bulk, more shoppers equals lower prices for all. Fare For All sites accept cash, credit/debit cards and EBT.
The Food Group partners with schools, faith organizations, and other community groups to provide small packages of kid-friendly foods that help fill the gap between meals for school-aged kids over the weekend. For many students who qualify for free lunch at school, finding enough food to get through the weekend can be a real challenge. The Food Group works with community partners to help ensure that each kid pack contains a good balance of protein, dairy, fruit, vegetable, and whole grain snacks to give children the nutrients they need to be successful.
If you are a school, faith organization, and other community groups interested in purchasing kid packs through The Food Group, please contact Lily Jaber.
Fresh Produce Programs
Fruits of the City/Garden Gleaning
Helping communities grow and harvest fresh, local produce for those in need.
There are thousands of fruit trees growing in backyards and orchards throughout Minnesota. Many of these trees produce more fruit than their owners can manage to pick, eat, preserve, or sell. Fruits of the City makes use of this fresh fruit, that would have otherwise gone to waste, and shares it with those in need. We match teams of trained volunteer gleaners with local fruit tree owners to harvest surplus fruit for our network of partner food shelves throughout Minnesota and western Wisconsin.
Harvest for the Hungry
Putting locally grown produce on every table.
Many Minnesota families cannot afford fresh, locally grown produce. In addition, each year thousands of pounds of fresh local produce are wasted in the fields. The Food Group’s Harvest for the Hungry program purchases this excess produce from local farmers and donates the fruit and vegetables to our network of food shelves, on-site meal programs, and hunger relief agencies free of charge. This program reduces food waste, supports local farmers, and provides more fresh produce to families struggling with food insecurity in our community.
Questions about Harvest for the Hungry? Please contact Andrea Hills.
Fresh produce saved from a landfill.
Millions of pounds of quality, fresh, USDA-inspected fruits and vegetable are thrown into landfills each year after being grown in Mexico and shipped for retail sale in the U.S. The Food Group’s Lost Harvest program partners with Food Providers of America in Arizona to rescue top-quality, in-season produce and distribute it through our network of partner agencies for free.
Produce Rescue at the Minneapolis Farmers Market
Saving local produce.
The Food Group is partnering with Hunger Solutions Minnesota to collect surplus produce from farmers, vendors and customers at the Minneapolis Farmers Market to distribute to food shelves and meal programs in the Twin Cities metro area.
Big River Farms (Minnesota Food Association)
Big River Farms works to build a sustainable food system based on social, economic, and environmental justice through education, training, and partnerships.
Through Big River Farms we:
- educate and provide resources to farmers from historically underrepresented communities (i.e. immigrant, people of color, women, veterans) and assist them in building independent sustainable farming businesses.
- create market opportunities for farmers through a CSA, farmers markets, and wholesale contracts.
- educate youth and community members in sustainable agriculture and the local food system.
- host an annual Emerging Farmers Conference, which connects farmers from diverse backgrounds, provides education and resources to small farm operators, fosters relationships between farmers and community partners, and empowers farmers to lead change in their communities.
The partnership between The Food Group and Big River Farms is unique. There are not many examples of food banks partnering with small-scale, sustainable farms, and we are excited to open the door to the many new possibilities this partnership will present. Together we will find innovative ways to support local farmers and alleviate hunger in our community.