Note: The following is a story by Chris Montana, the Owner of DuNord Craft Spirits. The distillery graciously donated hand sanitizer to Loaves and FIshes. Chris shares his amazement that this was not the first time he encountered Loaves and Fishes.
Today I had an experience I would like to share. A gentleman named Lonnie from Loaves & Fishes stopped by the distillery today to pick up hand sanitizer. If you are not familiar with Loaves and Fishes, they provide hot meals to anyone in need. While Lonnie was at the distillery, and through the course of our brief conversation, he mentioned that one of their sites was Holy Rosary Catholic Church and he gestured to the northwest.
When I moved to Minnesota from Indiana in 1991, we were dirt poor. We picked up food from food shelves, and I wore donated clothes and/or whatever we could find at goodwill. During this time I learned to hate, but tolerate, the orange/yellow blocks of government cheese we were given, and food stamps were still paper so you could get “real money” back in change. We often ate at soup kitchens and I remember liking the food there better than the stuff we had at home. I was 8 years old and had no real idea what “poor” really meant.
One of our fist apartments was across from cockroach park in Minneapolis. The official name was not cockroach park, but that was the name everyone in the neighborhood had for it. It is a little park tucked in by Cedar ave and Hiawatha about a block from Little Earth. Facing the park was, and is, a big church: Holy Rosary Catholic Church. The church is northwest of Du Nord Craft Spirits.
While talking to Lonny (Loaves and Fishes’ Director of Volunteering) the pieces coalesced in my head: The eight-year-old version of me had eaten dinners at Holy Rosary… I was a guest of Loaves and Fishes. I remembered being able to take some food home too and being so happy to have it. Now in the midst of a pandemic nearly 30 years later, I was donating hand sanitizer to the organization that fed me as a child.
We are in a time where our fates are so closely intertwined yet we are so isolated. Now more than ever we need to step up to help each other out. But for the donations of time and money that provided for those meals, I would have gone to bed hungry those nights in the winter of ’91. I have more emails than I can count from people wanting to help pay for or distribute sanitizer. I have staff who asked to be laid off if it would mean their coworkers could stay on the job. I have seen the Lonnys of the world in non-profits across the state double their efforts to help those in need. I am humbled today, and I hope I stay that way. There is so much good out there and people are working so hard for their fellow brothers and sisters that I am sure we get to the other side of this better than we were before. I hope this message finds you all safe, warm, and well-fed.
Husband/Dad/Owner, Du Nord Craft Spirits