“Solidarity with the Neighborhood”
The combination of the pandemic and the civil uprising of 2020 moved hunger relief in new directions. New organizations sprang up in response and partnered with The Food Group. Here’s a closer look at one of them- Du Nord Foundation Community Market (DNFCM).
The Minneapolis intersection of Lake St. and Hiawatha Avenue still bears the scars of the destruction that took place there last summer. We lost many of our stores and businesses on that corner, including three grocery suppliers. While stores were being renewed and rebuilt, a safe place to get groceries quietly opened their doors.
We spoke with Community Market Director, Trica Trowbridge, to learn more about the inception and continued operation of a free food market in a high need area of Minneapolis. As a Market Director, Trica connects the work to the community. She creates partnerships, recruits volunteers, gets the word out to neighbors and sets the tone of the experience the community has when they visit the market.
A Community-supported Food Shelf
“The Du Nord Foundation Community Market was created in direct response to the civil unrest following the murder of George Floyd,” Trica says. With the abrupt closures of three grocery stores, the need was immediate. At first, generous neighbors came to the aid, contributing food and household supplies. However, Du Nord recognized this quick response wouldn’t be sustainable to meet the scope of the need.
DNFCM began as a pop-up distribution, similar to many of the emergency relief initiatives. Trica explains, “DuNord has a unique standing of being both a food shelf with a non-profit 501(c)3 status, and a mutual aid organization. Food shelves have more structure and may pose more limitations on access, however they have the ability to secure certain grant funding that mutual aids don’t qualify for. Mutual aid organizations rely more on community support, and there are no barriers for who accesses their services. Mutual aid is on the rise, it creates more sense of community helping community.”
Offering Families Familiar Foods
The market has brought solace and relief to many. Last summer, the scope of need was so great that they were seeing 300-400 visitors a day. Word spread quickly and they got visitors from all over the metro area- Eagan, Richfield, Brooklyn Park. Now, they primarily serve the Latinx community living nearby. Shoppers preorder through an online ordering system where they can choose items that work for them and their household. Household items, especially hygiene and diapers, are always in high demand. The Market ensures culturally connected foods are always available with no limit to how many times a shopper can place an order. Maseca flour, fresh mangoes, nopales, jackfruit, rice and cooking oil are some of the items sourced from The Food Group. “The Food Group helps us get all of those cultural items that we really can’t get anywhere else,” Trica explains.
The Du Nord Foundation
In addition to the market relieving hunger in our local community, the DuNord Foundation is working to improve the economic wealth and sustainability of the Black and BIPOC community. Founded in the wake of the 2020 civil uprising to address racial inequities in the Twin Cities, the Du Nord Foundation focuses on three core tenets: providing stability through disaster, supporting business ownership and economic prosperity and investing in rebuilding the community through intentional and innovative business development.
How You Can Make A Difference
Give back in a meaningful way and volunteer! You can prep grocery orders, distribute drive up orders, or work behind the scenes. There is a new family friendly volunteer shift, for a group of up to six people with a minimum age of six. This is a great opportunity for kids to give back to the community over summer break. Learn more about the roles of each shift and sign up on the Community Market Volunteer Page.
Trica is honored to serve our neighbors and apply her twelve years of experience to a program that is community-centered, holistic and safe for everyone. “We don’t think of what we’re doing as hunger relief, it’s not just about food. This is about solidarity rather than charity. Everything that we do encompasses the health, safety, dignity, and respect of our neighbors. We ensure they have a choice in every aspect of their experience.”