FAQs

Learn how we're fighting hunger and nourishing our community.

Have a question about The Food Group that’s not listed here? Contact us today!

Where can I get free or affordable food in Minnesota and Wisconsin?

If you or someone you know is struggling to put food on the table, visit the Hunger Solutions interactive map or call the Minnesota Food HelpLine at 1-888-711-1151. (If you live in nearby Wisconsin, reach out to the St. Croix Valley Food Bank.)

The Food Group also has several affordable food programs. Visit Find Groceries to learn about Fare For All, the Twin Cities Mobile Market, and Big River Farms CSA.

Is The Food Group a nonprofit?

Yes! We are a registered 501 (c)(3) nonprofit organization as designated by the IRS. Our determination date was August 1976. Our EIN is #41-1246504.

View our latest annual report for details about our size and impact.

Why did Emergency Foodshelf Network become The Food Group?

In 1976, a group of Hennepin County food shelves pooled their resources to form a food bank, later called the Emergency Foodshelf Network. In 2014, our staff and board determined that name The Food Group is a stronger representation of our goal of to fight hunger and increase access to nutritious foods through an expanding group of people, programs, communities, and innovative solutions. 

What’s the history of Big River Farms?

Big River Farms was established in 1983 as the Minnesota Food Association (MFA). In the mid-1990s, the grassroots food advocacy organization created its keystone immigrant farmer training and technical assistance program.

In 2005, MFA added a land-based component to the program. Wilder Foundation leased the current farm to MFA, so new farmers could get hands-on experience in a safe start-up environment that was close to local markets and immigrant populations. In 2007, MFA began distributing produce under the name Big River Farms. Organic certification was obtained in 2008, and the program continued to grow. In 2017, MFA and Big River Farms became a program of The Food Group.

How is The Food Group different from other hunger relief organizations?

The Food Group is independent and local. We are not affiliated with national brands or networks (such as Feeding America).

We fight hunger and nourish the community through a food systems approach — from growing to retailing. Many folks know us as a food bank for a network of hunger relief partners. But we also sell low-cost groceries in communities with limited food access, and we teach sustainable food production to nontraditional groups at Big River Farms.

Our values set us apart. We are putting equity into action — centering community voices and changing systems so that there’s local, nutritious food on every table. Read more about our values and focus on equity and healthy foods.

Why is hunger a problem even when the economy is good?

It’s complicated. Not everyone in our community is experiencing economic well-being. Some individuals still can’t find jobs, or they are underemployed in part-time, low wage jobs that don’t pay enough to make ends meet. As the cost-of-living increases, many folks have to make tough choices between rent, medical bills, car repairs, and food. When food is the most flexible part of their budget, they skip meals and experience hunger.

How do you use cash and food donations?

At The Food Group, 90% of every donated dollar goes directly to hunger relief, affordable grocery, and emerging farmer programs. Our top priority is getting good food to those who need it most, while working toward a more just and equitable food system.

About 50% of our income is sustainable revenue from food sales and 50% is contributions from individuals, corporations and foundations, and government programs. You can donate today and change the lives of individuals and families who don’t know where their next meal is coming from.

How do you center community in your work?

We listen to our diverse community partners. And we work collaboratively. Our network is far-reaching — more than 200 food shelves and meal programs, Fare For All distribution sites, community partners across 30 counties, beginning farmers, and many more. And our talented team, ambitious volunteers, and generous donors are with us every step of the way. Join us today!

How can I get involved?

The opportunities are endless! Explore this website to learn how to donate, volunteer, or host a food or cash drive. And don’t forget to follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Linkedin!

Fresh produce should be accessible to everyone.
Get involved today.

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The Food Group

We’re a nonprofit working at the intersection of equity and access to fresh, sustainable foods. From farming to distribution, we provide fresh food across 30+ counties in Minnesota and Wisconsin.

The Food Group Office & Warehouse

Big River Farms