by Sophia Lenarz-Coy

The fight for food equity has an ever-changing recipe. The Food Group’s executive director, Sophia Lenarz-Coy, offers a personal reflection on our work for food justice.

Some of the best homemade recipes don’t follow the recipe at all. I remember when I was young my mom taught me how to make pie crust. There were no measuring cups or tablespoons. My mom taught me to go by “feel,” just like her mom had taught her. The ingredients were more of an afterthought. When my mom carved an “S” on the top piece of the crust, I always thought it stood for “Sophia.” But it was more special than that. The “S” stood for Schidemantel, my grandmother’s maiden name.

There’s simply no recipe for the work we’re doing at The Food Group.

As we end the year and begin another, I’ve been thinking of that story a lot. Because there’s simply no recipe for the work we’re doing at The Food Group. Not a straightforward one anyway, but we do know the community is the key ingredient in what we do.

We continue to navigate the turbulent economic landscape at the end of another trying year.

We’re still grappling with rising food costs, unprecedented inflation, the lingering effects of a life-changing pandemic and deep racial inequity. We’ve had to pivot more times than I can count and the changes just keep coming.

But one truth remains, we stand committed to building a stronger and healthier community by providing locally-grown, culturally relevant food. We’re dedicated to building a better food system from production to distribution. While the need keeps growing, we’re growing and adapting by leaning into that key ingredient: our community. 

In the coming year we plan to have extended conversations with people all across Minnesota, looking for ways to make food more affordable and more accessible. We’re asking deeper questions about how to create a better and more equitable food system. And, we’re already learning a lot.

Just recently, at our Fare For All site in Hutchinson I asked a woman to describe how people would access the foods they need in her ideal world. She described a system where people could trade what they have for the foods they need. She so importantly reminded me that we all have things to give-from time, to talents, to art, to resources. And it’s all of these ingredients from every person in our community that creates the recipe we need for a more just and equitable food system.

I’m so excited to have more conversations in 2023. And as much as things have changed in the last few years, I remain confident and committed to the work The Food Group is doing to fight for food equity, even if the recipe keeps changing with it.

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.

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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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