KA Has Heart Spotlight: The Food Group
by Brenden Nickels
Brenden Nickels is senior office assistant at Kraus-Anderson headquarters.
Showcasing KA Has Heart Charity Partner The Food Group
Sometimes, it can be difficult to get food, one of our most important needs. It can be especially difficult to get food right now, when we’re currently facing a pandemic. Fortunately, one organization has made it its mission to provide food to everyone, no matter the circumstance. This is why we are proud to collaborate with this organization, The Food Group, as well as spotlight them this month as our featured charity for our KA Has Heart spotlight. Founded as the Emergency Foodshelf Network, it became The Food Group when they felt that their former name no longer could describe exactly what they did in the community. Not only do they provide food for food shelves, but they also now have direct food access programs.
Nutritious Groceries on Wheels
Currently, The Food Group serves 32 counties throughout rural and urban areas in Minnesota and Western Wisconsin. Examples of their food distribution programs include the Twin Cities Mobile Market (TCMM), which is a grocery store on a bus. The market offers affordable and fresh food to 23 site across the Twin Cities, especially the areas that don’t have easy access to a grocery store or any other place to get food nearby. Normally, groceries from the Twin Cities Mobile Market were low cost, but right now, because of the coronavirus pandemic, the groceries are now at no cost.
Addressing Healthy Food Access
“TCMM has allowed us to expand our capacity to get more food into our communities where access to food is a struggle.” said Sophia Lenarz-Coy, The Food Group’s Executive Director. Many of the TCMM sites are in low-income neighborhoods where grocery stores are not close. Seniors and those without transportation have a hard time accessing fresh, nutritious foods.”
However, the main project for the Food Groups is assembling mobile packs at their warehouse in New Hope. This is where volunteers come in. Kraus-Anderson has volunteered at the Food Group multiple times, as the Food Group partners with our next-door neighbors and good friends, FINNEGANS, on their “Reverse Food Truck” where you can donate food or money to a truck that they have at various events. The proceeds from the “Reverse Food Truck” fund The Food Group’s Harvest for the Hungry program, which funds local produce for local food shelves.
“I thoroughly enjoyed working at the Food Group,” said Project Manager Renae Anderson. “Learning how this organization works hand in hand with local communities really hits home.” Project Assistant Shanna Haney agrees. She said, “Everything was very well organized, and our assembly line has moved continuously the entire time. The warehouse where they had us working was very clean, and the staff was very friendly. I would highly recommend The Food Group to anyone looking for a volunteer opportunity.”
Currently, as of this writing, The Food Group has three two-hour shifts available each weekday. Lenarz-Coy said that the programs and agency decide the contents of each mobile pack based on the feedback of the community. “We value items that are culturally connected and nutritious,” she adds.
You Can Help
If you would like to volunteer, donate, or would just like more information, visit The Food Group’s website at thefoodgroupmn.org, or follow them on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram at @thefoodgroupmn. If you would like more information on Finnegan’s “reverse food truck”, you can find it at https://finnegans.org/reverse-food-truck/