City of Peace Awards will recognize those making a difference

Sep 6, 2016

The City of Peace Awards will be honoring many influential peace promoters in Minnesota on Sept. 11. Loaves and Fishes, a nonprofit meal program organization, is one of the winners that will be recognized for making a difference in Columbia Heights.

Thanks to Loaves and Fishes, kids in the summer rec. program enjoy a delicious and nutritious meal while having some fun in Murzyn Hall. (Photo courtesy of Liz Bray)
Thanks to Loaves and Fishes, kids in the summer rec. program enjoy a delicious and nutritious meal while having some fun in Murzyn Hall. (Photo courtesy of Liz Bray)

Sal Di Leo, a consultant to the City of Peace awards, said that this organization perfectly fits the criteria needed to win this award. “It really comes down to the people in the state of Minnesota who are reaching out and empowering people to live better,” Di Leo said. “Loaves and Fishes is providing this act of peace by feeding people and touching so many lives. They are making such an impact on such diverse populations.”

Through a partnership with Columbia Heights Recreation started earlier this year, Loaves and Fishes has provided hundreds of hot meals for children participating in the city’s summer recreation programs.

“Wherever children are is where we want to be,” Loaves and Fishes executive director Cathy Maes said. Maes said that the organization is always trying to find new partnerships to serve children during the summer months since school is out of session. This partnership allowed Columbia Heights Recreation to provide an everyday meal for the children in the program, rather than only once a week as in previous years.

Not only does Loaves and Fishes provide nutritious meals, they also turn lunch time into a learning experience to keep kids happy and healthy. Held up to a strict organizational standard of providing a nutritious meal, many of the children had the opportunity to gain a well-balanced diet and learn about healthy options.

“One of the biggest challenges this summer was reintroducing these kids to a new kind of eating,” Liz Bray, the recreation program coordinator, said. Bray said that since many parents may be short on time, they often turn to quick and frozen meals. Loaves and Fishes is able to introduce and provide healthy options and allows children to learn how to maintain a much more balanced diet.

“Toward the end of the summer, many of these kids started to really appreciate the fact that all the food they were serving is very fresh,” Bray said.

 

The partnership allows any child that participates in any summer recreation program to receive a meal. Morning participants stay for lunch after their program and afternoon participants arrive early.

Loaves and Fishes volunteers prepare plates for children in the rec. program. (Photo courtesy of Liz Bray)
Loaves and Fishes volunteers prepare plates for children in the rec. program. (Photo courtesy of Liz Bray)

Loaves and Fishes helps communities statewide, providing free, nutritious meals and support to those in need. There are over 20 different dining sites in Minnesota including Bloomington, Brooklyn Park, Minneapolis, and more. Each dining site offers a welcoming and hospitable environment for every guest. The organization’s dining sites also provide additional access to different social services  like food shelves and housing programs.

The awards will recognize one individual winner, two organization winners, and a city winner. The individual winner is Apechkchya Karki, president of the Association of Nepalis in Minnesota. She has worked hard to gain awareness and support in Minnesota for the victims of the deadly earthquake in Nepal in April 2016. Karki’s work has gained a number of enthusiastic and active supporters in the community, making it possible to raise money and donations for thousands of those in need.

The second organization winner is Ka Joog, a Somali nonprofit organization that focuses on providing education, mentoring, employment, and arts to Somali American youth in Minnesota. Ka Joog, which means “stay away” in Somalian, helps to keep these children away from negative influences like drugs, and promotes positive elements through special programs to motivate them to pursue higher education and make the right choices.

The 2016 city winner is Woodbury. Chosen because of its efforts to encourage diversity and community involvement, Woodbury completed two specific projects that has really made a difference in Minnesota. Citizens of Woodbury came together to work on the project Feed My Starving Children and was able to provide 4 million meals to those in need worldwide. Another project includes the opening of Madison’s Place universal access playground. Woodbury residents Dave and Dana Millington began the Madison Claire Foundation in honor of their daughter, Madison Claire, who passed away at age 2 due to complications of spinal muscular atrophy. This organization raised funds and partnered with the city to build a playground at the city’s Bielenburg Sports Center.

The City of Peace Awards will take place on Sunday, Sept. 11,  at Murzyn Hall, 530 Mill Street NE, in Columbia Heights at from 4:30 to 7 p.m.

Contact Sarah Burghardt at sarah.burghardt@ecm-inc.com

http://focus.mnsun.com/2016/08/27/city-of-peace-awards-will-recognize-those-making-a-difference/