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.
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.
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.
The Produce Programs Team travels to regional farms from July-November to harvest excess or leftover produce directly from farms.
Harvest for the Hungry
The Food Group’s Harvest for the Hungry program purchases 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.
The Food Group Micro-Farm
Our small farm is located on the front lawn of our property in New Hope, Minnesota. With the help of volunteers, we grow and harvest organically grown fresh produce each season to be donated to food shelf partners.
Minneapolis Farmers Market Produce Rescue
Every Sunday from July to the end of October, volunteers visit all the vendor and farmer booths at the Minneapolis Farmers Market (312 East Lyndale Ave N.) to collect surplus produce from the market that they can no longer sell.
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.