Community Relief Partnerships
Giving back to the communities we serve has always been important at Lakewinds. As a result of the global pandemic and recent local civil unrest, the need for support services has increased in our local communities. Seeing that greater need, we’re committed to ongoing relief efforts and community support partnerships that provide food and supplies where they’re needed most.
Our community support efforts have ramped up since March. In that time, we’ve collaborated with other businesses and organizations to create relief efforts for local farmers and makers. We’ve also refocused our donations budget to provide food and supplies to food access organizations and programs serving communities most affected by recent events. Here are some of the community partnerships and donations from this past spring and summer that Lakewinds has been able to make because of the amazing support of our shoppers and owners.
In March, our co-op participated in the Minnesota FoodShare campaign with fantastic results. By rounding up their grocery bills and purchasing food shelf donation cards, Lakewinds shoppers raised $25,886.02! Since each store met their goal of raising $7,000, Lakewinds matched a portion of those donations and contributed another $15,000 bringing the total amount donated to $40,886.02, which was split between our 3 food shelf partners, PROP, ICA, and VEAP. None of us knew at the time just how important those funds would be with dramatically increased demand for support services just around the corner.
Hopkins School District
Toward the end of March, as schools and businesses began to close or transition to distanced programs, Lakewinds donated 1,500 grocery bags to the Hopkins school district. These bags were used to create take-home food bags for students and their families in order to continue to provide some of the food support systems traditionally available at school.
The Sheridan Story
In early April, Lakewinds made a one-time monetary donation of $1,000 to The Sheridan Story to support expansion of their food relief efforts. Instead of delivering food to 250 Minnesota schools for direct distribution into children’s backpacks, The Sheridan Story is now working with 31 school districts in Minnesota and western Wisconsin and other community partners to provide food at designated food distribution points for children and families. In order to meet the skyrocketing needs, they increased food output by 400%, delivering more than 100,000 meals a week to over 37% of all K-12 children in Minnesota.
Connect to Care
The co-op also donated $360 worth of nonperishable food items, including beans, pasta, pasta sauce, cooking oil, and rice, to Connect to Care in April. This local nonprofit organization works with homeless shelters throughout Minnesota to provide needed supplies and services at no charge, which increases the efficiency of shelters and provides better support to individuals experiencing homelessness.
Local Farmer/Maker Relief Efforts
In May, along with other local businesses and nonprofit organizations, teams from Lakewinds began the work to create 2 new programs designed to bolster our local food system. Both of these projects have now come to fruition and are having a positive effect on our local food system.
LEAFF, a farmer relief program was designed to provide new markets for fresh produce while also routing it to local communities who need it most. To date, this program has provided markets for 42 local farmers who identify as BIPOC and has provided more than 78,000 lbs. of fresh produce to hunger relief organizations and community groups free of charge.
The Local Food is Essential campaign encourages consumers to support local farmers and makers by choosing local foods whenever possible. This community engagement campaign was designed to drum up support for local farmers and makers while spreading the word that now, more than ever, our participation as consumers in the local food system is crucial.
Waite House is a strong partner in Phillips Community in South Minneapolis – nurturing the health, prosperity, and social capital of over 4,500 community members each year. They provide services like a food shelf, free community meals, and fresh produce distribution from their urban agriculture programs.
On June 3, with the help of one of our long-time produce distributors, Albert’s, Lakewinds brought a donation of over 850 lbs. of fresh, organic produce to be distributed through the Waite House food shelf. Lakewinds purchased 19 cases of apples, spinach, romaine lettuce, and bell peppers, and Albert’s matched our purchase by donating another 19 cases.
We also brought 400 organic plant starts for Waite House’s urban agriculture programs. We were able to donate tomatoes, squash, melons, herbs, and pollinator-friendly native plants. Most of these plants were planted in the community gardens tended by Waite House staff and volunteers, and the produce was distributed to the community or used in their farm-to-table meal program. Some of the live plants were given to food shelf visitors who wanted to plant gardens at their own homes or in public community gardens.
Division of Indian Work
In mid-June, word reached us that personal hygiene products were at the top of the list of most-needed items at the Horizons Unlimited food shelf at the Division of Indian Work. With the help of vendor partners Kiss My Face, The Honey Pot, and Green Goo, we were able to bring a substantial donation of shampoo, conditioner, bar soap, feminine hygiene products, toothpaste, deodorant, hand sanitizer, and lotion to DIW’s Lake St. headquarters.
In August, we were able to donate 60 pairs of new, over-the-counter eyeglasses with various prescriptions, valued at more than $1,200 to our friends at DIW. These glasses will be distributed to elders in the local urban Native community.
Southside Boys & Girls Club
Later in June, our co-op worked with other generous vendor partners to bring food and supplies to the food shelf at the Southside Boys & Girls Club. Since late May, this organization has been providing support to the community through the expansion of a food shelf and free community meals served 3 days per week. Since May, they’ve been serving as many as 300-500 people a day.
We heard that fresh protein was in high demand and very low supply at the food shelf, so we reached out to local farmer and long-time egg supplier for Lakewinds, Larry Schultz Organic Farm. Larry stepped up in a big way, donating more than 1,000 bulk eggs and 4 cases of sliced deli meat – free of charge! Our friends at Equal Exchange donated 3 cases of organic, fair trade bananas with Lakewinds purchasing another 3 cases, and wellness vendors Kiss My Face and Green Goo provided deodorant, hand sanitizer, soap, and toothpaste for donation to the Boys & Girls Club food shelf. To help with the infrastructure of the community meals program and food distribution, the co-op also donated aluminum sandwich wraps and 500 reusable tote bags.
On July 10, we were back at the Southside Boys & Girls Club to help out with a free community meal. Vendor partner Thousand Hills not only provided 500 grass-fed beef hotdogs, along with condiments, they also provided staff volunteers and a grill to help cook and serve the meal! Angelic Bakehouse provided half of the buns at no charge, with Lakewinds purchasing the other half, and they too sent a volunteer to help serve the meal. Equal Exchange once again generously matched our purchase of bananas to provide 6 total cases of organic, fair trade bananas. Lakewinds also purchased 21 cases of bottled water and provided one volunteer to help serve the meal. This took some of the burden off the staff and volunteers normally responsible for cooking and serving the community meal.
Pow Wow Grounds Food Pantry
In early July, we learned of the pop-up food pantry located at Pow Wow Grounds, a café located inside All My Relations Art Gallery. With the help of our paper goods vendor, Dalco, we were able to provide some of the most-needed personal hygiene items including individually wrapped toilet paper and feminine hygiene products. Our co-op also purchased 10 cases of nonperishable foods from the most-needed list, including peanut butter, jelly, cooking oil, and cereal valued at nearly $600.
ICA Food Shelf
We regularly partner with our local food shelves, like ICA, throughout the year to provide donations and support food rescue efforts. We know that food shelves are experiencing increased demand for their services right now. Toward the end of July, the co-op made an extra one-time donation of some of the items on their current needs list. Our co-op provided 3 cases of individually wrapped toilet paper, along with nonperishable foods such as baby food, cooking oil, and peanut butter valued at $650.
Little Earth Boys & Girls Club
Like their Southside counterpart, the Little Earth Boys & Girls Club has been providing food shelf access and free community meals. To avoid congestion inside the building, they have a food box distribution program. Volunteers pack and distribute the boxes door-to-door each week to families who have signed up for the service. In August, we worked with staff and volunteers to identify the most-requested items for these boxes. Lakewinds donated 7 cases of fresh, organic produce including tomatoes, sweet potatoes, onions, and baby carrots, valued at more than $450. The co-op also provided nonperishable items in high demand, including 30 lbs. of coffee and canned beans valued at $270.
PROP Food Shelf
In mid-August, we provided extra support to another of our local food shelf partners, PROP. After looking over their list of most-needed items, we organized a donation of fresh, organic produce, including onions, potatoes, and carrots, along with nonperishable food items and oral hygiene products valued at more than $700.
This spring and summer, our co-op has had the opportunity focus some of our normal community giving efforts to offer support to folks in our communities who have been affected by hardship and hunger. We could not have done this without our amazing shoppers, who reaffirm the importance of caring for our community every time they shop at the co-op. Our reach would have been far less without the help of amazing vendor partners. We’d like to give special appreciation to these vendors for their support:
- Thousand Hills
- Angelic Bakehouse
- Larry Schutlz Organic Farm
- Kiss My Face
- The Honey Pot
- Green Goo
- Equal Exchange
We are extremely grateful for the important relief efforts of local nonprofit organizations, including those who are adapting to far higher demand for their services. Their staff and volunteers are the backbone of these relief efforts. If you’d like to learn more about volunteer and donation opportunities with some of the nonprofits we partner with, head to the volunteer opportunities page on our website.