To provide healthy meals to Minnesotans in areas where need is greatest.
We are always guided by our vision that all people, regardless of socioeconomic, cultural, religious, or ethnic background, deserve to meet their basic needs for food, dignity and respect.
1982: Our free meal program was founded in 1982 with one dining site each in Minneapolis (St. Stephen’s) and St. Paul (Dorothy Day Center). Today, we are providing thousands of meals daily, are present across Minnesota, and are the largest open to the public free meal program in the state. While staying true to our core mission of serving home-cooked meals daily at dining site locations, we have strategically cultivated new initiatives, supported by our expanding food rescue operation and an ever-increasing number of pounds harvested at our own local farm and gardens.
2008: We began serving Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) meals in 2008. Today, we are one of the largest summer meal programs operating in Minnesota, third only to the Minneapolis and St. Paul school districts.
2014: Our food rescue program began in 2014. At that time, it was called “Zero Percent Initiative” and was designed to utilize wasted food specifically from cafeterias. Today our operation has grown to a more comprehensive program. We now rescue any type of fresh, nutritious food from a variety of food recovery partners that include restaurants, businesses and schools and we participate in a national program called MealConnect.
2015 (Summer): Farm for All was implemented the summer of 2015, funded by a one-time grant from United Way as part of their centennial celebration. It strengthens our overall mission to provide healthy meals to people in need. It is a key component to our food sourcing and nutrition programs, improving our internal system of acquiring nutritious food, and offering a farm-to-table approach for food insecure Minnesotans who otherwise don’t have affordable and reliable access to such produce. It also creates new volunteer opportunities for our existing and future supporters.
2015: We began bringing meals to those who are hungry but couldn’t get to our dining sites in 2015. Today, our street outreach delivers almost 500,000 meals annually to people found on the urban streets of St. Paul and Minneapolis.
2017 (early spring): We moved into a bigger warehouse space in SE Minneapolis, in order to accommodate our growing food inventory.
2017 (Fall): We began a successful pilot partner program with 4 nonprofits (Casa de Esperanza, Sarah’s Oasis for Women, Tree Trust, and Ain Dah Yung Center) after learning that small organizations were having a difficult time sourcing affordable healthy foods.
2018 (Summer): We became the first and only redistributor of Second Harvest Heartland (SHH) food in Minnesota.
2018 (Summer): With our SHH redistributor status solidified and a successful pilot complete, The HUB for small nonprofits and community meal groups was officially launched, broadening access to healthy food in Minnesota.
2019 (January): We became an emergency responder by serving healthy meals at the Minneapolis St. Paul International Airport to federal employees impacted by the 2019 government shutdown.
2019 (Spring): We began our Advocacy Program for Older Minnesotans, offering face-to-face guidance and social service resources to help seniors live safely and independently in their own homes.
2020: When the pandemic began in mid-March 2020, our response to the food insecurity it created was immediate and quickly obliterated our original full-year meal projection of 1,560,000 meals. By the end of 2020, we had served 4,454,745 meals – a staggering 227% increase from 2019.