Pastor Bruce Carpenter and his wife Brenda lead their congregation in preparing 300 meals each week made with fresh produce from Big River Farms.

Food shelf and meal program guests are receiving an increased benefit this summer: locally grown, fresh, organic produce from Big River Farms. Thanks to donor support, farmers can sell their produce directly to The Food Group for distribution to local food shelf partners. Contributions are leveraged to provide nutritious, high-quality vegetables and fruits to families who are most affected by the economic downturn.

This year’s farms-to-families produce distributions expand on past collaborations with local farmers, food co-ops, and gleaning partners. Donations have multiplied the volume of produce available during a year when both farmers and food shelf guests appreciate the extra support.

“The pandemic created great uncertainty for the farmers in our program, with many of their usual markets gone or scaled back,” says Laura Mirafuentes, Big River Farms’ Program Manager. “At the same time, there’s a high interest in local food. The additional funding we’ve received from donors during the COVID-19 crisis has double the impact, helping our farmers through purchase of their produce, and providing fresh food to our food shelf and meal program partners.”

New Oil Christian Center in the Camden neighborhood of Minneapolis is a new partner since the COVID-19 emergency onset. Pastor Bruce Carpenter and his wife Brenda are leading the small congregation to prepare and provide 300 meals each week, mostly to homeless adults and families in temporary shelter, and to seniors with medical conditions or mobility challenges. Learning that they could get fresh farm food at no charge through partnership with The Food Group and Big River Farms was “a match made in heaven,” according to Bruce. Volunteers use the church’s commercial-grade kitchen to prepare meals that are delivered to distribution sites on their “Soul Good” food trailer. “We deliver hot, well-balanced meals so our guests can eat healthy food,” he says. “We so appreciate these deliveries from the farm,” Brenda adds. “And our volunteer cooks are trying new foods and finding new recipes like sauteed turnip greens!”

Farmer Wa Kou, Twin Cities Green Farm, takes a selfie at Big River Farms’ farm stand at Kingfield Farmers Market.

This year also happens to be a good growing year, so there is a bountiful harvest. Farmer Wa Kou Hang is pleased to participate in the initiative. “Organic produce should be affordable and cheaper than conventional produce because we manage soil fertility naturally. Supporting good health is one of our core operating farm business principles. I am happy to be part of organic producers who can participate in Farm to Food Shelf. Our produce will reach low-income families who have limited access to quality organic produce,” he says.  

“It’s amazing to have this funding to allow our farmers to get the healthy food to get to lower-income homes and people who most need the food, and still pay the farmers,” Laura says. “I look forward to the continued growth of this partnership.”

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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.

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

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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.

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