Volunteers with the Minneapolis University Rotary Club stock a food shelf.

Carol Skulstad knew her community was suffering. With the pandemic in full swing, the social unrest following the murder of George Floyd erupted. These two life changing events collided to form an economic crisis that meant thousands of Minnesotans were affected by food insecurity.

“We at the Minneapolis University Rotary Club (MURC) recognized there is increased food insecurity in our community, and so we looked for opportunities to help.”

MURC, established in 1991, is a small and mighty club, made up of people who embody the Rotary motto, “Service Above Self.” Members are committed to social justice in the community and abroad, and are people of action. Members represent diverse backgrounds, professions, and communities—including the University of Minnesota—who share a passion for serving, learning, and connecting with the world and each other. 

MURC acted quickly to make an impact in areas of Minneapolis experiencing high levels of food insecurity. Members were unable to volunteer, given COVID restrictions, so with the help of The Food Group, they coordinated a virtual food drive. This strategy raised money via an online giving site to be used to purchase nutritious food by Simpson United Methodist Church Food Shelf and Community Bridge Food Shelf.

Volunteers pose in front of the Simpson Food Pantry in the Whittier neighborhood of Minneapolis.

Simpson United Methodist Church Food Shelf

Simpson, located in the Whittier neighborhood of Minneapolis, experienced a huge influx of visitors to their food shelf in 2020, many first time visitors.  Serving a more diverse community means needing a mix of culturally connected and nutritious foods is a must. The support received from MURC was integral to meeting the sudden uptick in demand.

Cheryl, the food shelf manager, explains, “Their generosity has allowed us to continue to do the work we do. Providing monetary donations has given us more of a chance to buy food and we can afford to buy culturally connected food that’s more expensive for all the people that come to this area.”

Community Bridge Food Shelf

Community Bridge has been a resource to the community for over 50 years. They are located in the Phillips neighborhood, which is home to the highest number of people over the age of 65 in the US. With the pandemic causing such a risk to their community, they knew people were isolating but were also in need of food. 

Mary, the food shelf manager, describes the increase in need, “We served 160 families per month prior to COVID and now we’re up to 400 a week. It’s a little hard financially.”

Hunger is Worth Fighting

MURC knows that one in nine Minnesotans is currently experiencing hunger, one in six kids goes to bed hungry every night and one third of Minnesotans lack access to healthy foods. These statistics, combined with schools closed during the pandemic, were too much to think about. Erin, club president, shares, “Without enough food, there is not much else a child or adult can think about. Our club recognizes the need, and we want to do our part to alleviate hunger.”

Volunteers pack food boxes.

Local Impact

Since the inception of MURC’s virtual food drive in late 2020, the club has raised over $6,000, far exceeding their goal of $5,000, and providing 12,188 meals to the community! A virtual food drive is the easiest and most convenient option for a group to give back to their community. Lori, Public Relations Chair, explains, “Being able to support a virtual food drive is an excellent option. It also allows the receiving organizations flexibility to direct resources where they know they are needed most.”

In addition to the monetary donations, members have given their time on multiple occasions at Simpson Food Shelf sorting donations and readying the food shelf for shoppers. Carol describes her experience, “The work at the Simpson food shelf is very satisfying; we all feel great when we finish, and we believe we are helping others. Jeff and Cheryl are committed to the people in need, they are kind, and just lovely to work with. They inspire us, and we can’t wait to go back each time.”

To learn more about starting a virtual food drive for your group or organization, please reach out to Talia Miracle at [email protected]

About Minneapolis University Rotary Club

If you’d like to know more about the Minneapolis University Rotary Club, you can look at MURC’s website at Minneapolis University Rotary Club.   MURC members are all ages and are from diverse backgrounds and experience.  “We love and want new members.  We are brought together through our pledge to actively help our communities, and the world.  If this describes you, get in touch with us!” 

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