Did you know we have a dedicated team of seven volunteers that help pack your weekly CSA shares? They’re an integral part of what makes our CSA so successful, ensuring members like you receive fresh, beautiful veggie shares throughout our 18-week season. Every Wednesday morning, this committed crew joins us bright and early to pack 225 CSA boxes full of freshly harvested produce grown by our hard working farmers. We couldn’t do this work without them!

Meet Koshiki Smith, one of this year’s returning CSA volunteers, and learn why it’s meaningful to her.

How did you first learn about The Food Group? How long have you been volunteering at Big River Farms?

This is my second year volunteering at Big River Farms. Before the pandemic, I volunteered at Frogtown Farm, an organic community farm in St. Paul. Unfortunately, they paused their volunteer program last year due to the pandemic. So, I searched for another organization with a similar philosophy where I could volunteer outside and landed a position at Big River Farms.

What’s your favorite part about volunteering at Big River Farms?

I enjoy the early morning drive to the farm. Each week I see a beautiful sunrise (I leave my house at 5:30am!) and wild animals. I also enjoy the peace and tranquility of being at the farm with other volunteers who believe in supporting their communities. And most of all, I love receiving fresh organic produce from the farm each week!  

How would you sum up your volunteer experience in one word?


Why is supporting your community with nutritious, culturally connected foods important to you?

My husband and I ran a chef-owned restaurant in St. Paul for almost two decades with a mission of serving food to the community that was affordable and scratch-made with clean, locally-sourced ingredients. We worked with local farmers, butchers, and other suppliers to help create a more vibrant, nurturing, self-sufficient community.

After the restaurant, I’ve continued to work with a local food hub, local food co-ops, and nonprofit organizations to help educate and promote the local food movement, which is an essential part of who I am.

What’s the most unexpected or unique item you’ve seen during weekly CSA packing?

Dried beans.

What do you do when you’re not volunteering? 

I do a couple of things – I am a travel advisor and a Japanese travel specialist for a company I co-founded named Tanpopo Journeys. I take people on interest-group journeys to Japan (including culinary trips!). Our mission is to work with artists, farmers, craftspeople, and small businesses to foster and help them preserve traditional Japanese crafts and food production methods while sharing them with interested travelers. 

When I am not travel advising, I teach cooking classes, work on my food blog, The Japanese Kitchen, and write contributing articles for Taste of Home.  

I am also a mother to two boys, age 11 and 15, and a wife, so I spend a lot of time hanging out with my family.

We Value Nutritious Food
Working with our community partners, The Food Group buys, gleans, grows, and processes fresh produce.

Food Bank
or Food Shelf?
The Food Group is a food bank that supplies other hunger relief agencies with fresh produce, frozen meat, grocery staples, and other household necessities. Food shelves distribute free food to individuals and families in their local communities.

The Food Group believes in food equity. They believe in culturally specific foods. They believe in meeting people where they are at. And most of all, they believe in dignity.

The Food Group volunteer and donor

Did You Know?
Over 20% of Black households and 19% of Latinx households report food insecurity, compared to 10% of white households.

Stay up-to-date with The Food Group


Stay up-to-date with The Food Group


The Food Group

We’re a nonprofit working at the intersection of equity and access to fresh, sustainable foods. From farming to distribution, we provide fresh food across MN and WI.

The Food Group is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization. EIN 41-1246504 Contributions are tax-deductible to the full amount provided by the law.

platinum transparency seal candid
Charity Navigator Four Star
CRC Meets Standards

The Food Group Office & Warehouse

Big River Farms

Hunger Solutions Logo

Hunger Solutions