FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Channel One Regional Food Bank
Bellmont Partners (for Second Harvest Heartland)
Rochester, MN (Jan. 18, 2023) – Minnesota Central Kitchen, a hunger-relief program started by Twin Cities-based food bank Second Harvest Heartland, today announced its evolution to Kitchen Coaltion. The comprehensive change reflects the program’s growth and focus on serving up culturally connected, freshly prepared meals to fight hunger.
Kitchen Coalition, a food bank-powered program that invests in communities to prepare and serve meals that are right for every neighbor, was started as a crisis initiative at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. A triple win for communities, food is rescued from waste, restaurants and caterers keep employees working and paid during downtimes to prepare the meals, and neighbors are fed. In the nearly three years since, it has become a permanent program of Second Harvest Heartland, launched at Channel One Regional Food Bank in Rochester and will begin a pilot at Great Plains Food Bank in Fargo, N.D. The initiative will continue to grow nationally.
Groceries from a food shelf can only go so far if someone does not have the home, health or ability to make meals on their own. Research shows 15% of those who are food insecure fall into one of these categories and need prepared meals. The need exists everywhere, from rural communities to urban environments to college campuses. Kitchen Coalition is a creative, unique and replicable solution to fulfill that need.
“We’ve demonstrated that investing in community businesses and organizations to feed neighbors prepared meals is efficient and welcomed by those who live in those communities,” said Robin Manthie, managing director of Kitchen Coalition. “With this new name and direction, we’re ready to share the Kitchen Coalition model with food banks in Minnesota and beyond.”
In Rochester, Kitchen Coalition will continue to provide an average of 4,800 meals each month.
Kitchen Coalition recognizes the importance of not only providing enough food for those who are food insecure but enough of the right food. The program listens to neighbors and community leaders to understand what matters to them and ensures the balanced meals are inclusive of dietary needs, such as halal, global cuisine or simply comfort food for the local community. More than 50% of Kitchen Coalition meals (currently throughout Minnesota) are made by BIPOC-owned restaurants and caterers.
Kitchen Coalition is one of the only nonprofits nationally that brings donated goods to for-profit kitchens to turn them into delicious meals. This unique combination ensures culturally connected food is produced cost-effectively.
Partner kitchens are paid at cost for their work, which means they employ more workers and are better able to weather downtimes for their businesses. Currently, Channel One partners with three production restaurants: Powers Ventures’ Canadian Honker Restaurant and Taqueria El Sueno in Rochester and Madina Cuisine and Market in Faribault. Channel One’s iteration of Kitchen Coalition also works with eight distribution partners – Pamoja Women, The Jeremiah Program, Open Table Food Ministry, Next Chapter Ministries, and the Gage East Community in Rochester; Somali Community Resettlement Services in Faribault; and Trinity Lutheran Church in Owatonna.
“This is such a lifesaver, especially for us moms,” said Belinda of the Kitchen Coalition meals. “When we’re working, going to school, having to take care of kids, some of us are on our own doing it. I happen to be one of those [moms]– I don’t have friends, I don’t have family, I don’t have another active partner in my life for my kids, so it all falls on me and it can be very stressful.” Belinda and her family are part of The Jeremiah Program, a Kitchen Coalition distribution partner that disrupts poverty two generations at a time. “Food is one of the ultimate gifts because that really shows to me you care. To give someone food, you don’t really know what that could really mean to someone. I definitely know that first-hand.”
In total, more than 75 nonprofit distribution partners distribute and serve 25,000 meals each week as part of Kitchen Coalition. Most of the meals shared with the community are prepared within three miles of where they are eaten. This neighbor-first approach means neighbors are nourished, local businesses are supported, and meals are made and delivered with care.
For more information, visit helpingfeedpeople.org/kitchen-coalition
About Kitchen Coalition
Kitchen Coalition serves up culturally connected, freshly prepared meals and a whole new way to fight hunger. Not everyone facing hunger has the home, health, or ability to use the groceries food banks offer. Kitchen Coalition has built a network of local restaurants and caterers who turn food bank ingredients into nutritious, freshly prepared meals. Then, trusted nonprofits get those meals to neighbors on a predictable schedule. Visit kitchencoalition.org to learn more.
About Channel One Regional Food Bank
Channel One Regional Food Bank, a member of Feeding America, strengthens food access and builds healthy communities. Channel One operates food programs to serve local and area needs such as: a food bank, a food shelf, mobile pantries, Childhood Hunger Programs, Kitchen Coalition and the Commodity Supplemental Food Program (CSFP). Channel One Regional Food Bank mobilizes organizations, volunteers, and donors to serve the network of over 160 nonprofit programs that provide food for children, adults, and families in need. Channel One serves 14 counties across southeastern Minnesota and western Wisconsin. For more information, call 507.287.2350 or visit helpingfeedpeople.org.