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A Minnesota company is taking advantage of America's food truck obsession in a wonderfully philanthropic way
Like any food truck, Finnegans let fans keep tabs on the truck through Facebook and Twitter.
In Minnesota’s Twin Cities, a philanthropic campaign from local beer company Finnegans is hoping to pick up steam. The company's "reverse food truck" was recently introduced at a Minneapolis street festival.
Instead of preparing food for paying customers, the truck collects food and money and delivers it to hunger relief programs across four states in the Midwest.
The innovative project is the first of its kind that we know of in the United States, but we also recently learned of a similar charity concept in Hail, Saudi Arabia that warmed our hearts.
In the past several years, demand for emergency food assistance has increased dramatically, and food pantries have been struggling to keep up.
Finnegans’ reverse food truck, which one organizer calls “a food drive in the most literal sense,” hopes to be able to distribute 50,000 pounds of food to the hungry by the end of this summer.
Follow the Finnegans reverse food truck and keep track of their locations online. If you'd like to help, you can also make a donation at any time.
Karen Lo is an associate editor at The Daily Meal. Follow her on Twitter @appleplexy.
We mobilize our community to ensure access to real, healthy food.
Watch our ‘A Fresh Approach’ mission video and FRESHstart Kitchen video.
Who We Are
The Chester County Food Bank was formed in 2009 to address the escalating hunger problem in the county. Our primary goal was, and still is, to have a viable, sustainable organization that secures, manages and distributes food to those in need.
Today, we are the central hunger relief organization serving more than 120 partner agencies in Chester County, PA. Through our network of food cupboards, hot meal sites, shelters and other social service organizations, we distribute over 3 million pounds to our neighbors with limited or uncertain access to adequate food.
We are, however, more than food drives that put cans on shelves. We take a steadfast approach to provide food and build support in the neediest communities, while raising awareness and engagement among our community. Visit our Food Security Initiatives to learn about how our programs are making inroads in the fight against hunger.
How We Work
The Food Bank is housed in a 36,000 square foot facility including our 2,500 square foot commercial kitchen, 4,250 square feet of refrigeration and freezer space and our warehouse. We secure food through donations, state and federal food assistance programs and by purchasing fresh and non-perishables using grant monies.
Volunteers help to inspect, sort and repackage food in preparation for distribution. Volunteers provide thousands of hours of support every year ranging from processing fresh produce in our kitchen, packing bags for our Backpack program and donated food in our warehouse, to working the fields at our local farm partners.
Using our three refrigerated box trucks, our staff of drivers make daily (weekday) deliveries to our cupboards and social service agencies throughout the 759 square miles of Chester County.
In 2017, we became a Partner Distribution Organization (PDO) of Philabundance which is a part of the Feeding America network.
Community Food Security Assessment
In 2018, the Philadelphia Foundation funded Chester County’s first Community Food Security Assessment as part of Chester County Food Bank’s strategic planning process. Read the assessment here.
We made two layer cakes using the same ingredients (flour, sugar, salt, baking soda, baking powder, butter, milk, and egg whites) in the same proportions. We mixed one batter using the creaming method and the other via the reverse-creaming method. We then baked the cakes and asked tasters to compare the texture and appearance of each cake layer. Then, to get really geeky, we used a highly sensitive tool called the Brookfield Engineering CT3 Texture Analyzer to measure the firmness of each cake.
Central Texas Food Bank distributes food to those in need during COVID-19 pandemic
Those who went to the event received an emergency food box containing about 28 pounds of food consisting of shelf-stable items such&nbspas peanut butter, brown rice, canned tuna or chicken, and canned fruit.
AUSTIN, Texas - The Central Texas Food Bank held a special drive-through in the parking lot of LBJ High School to distribute food to help those who are facing increased food security during the coronavirus pandemic.
The once vibrant city of Austin, has been shuttered due to the virus, all to help flatten the curve. The job loss and economic impact is being felt by many residents. You can tell, by the number of cars that lined up Wednesday morning at LBJ High School. This was one of the Central Texas Food Bank&aposs special distributions.
“I think it&aposs a great thing during this time because people need it,” said Gregg Schroeder, an Austin resident.
Those who went to the event received an emergency food box containing about 28 pounds of food consisting of shelf-stable items suchਊs peanut butter, brown rice, canned tuna or chicken, and canned fruit. The food bank said 1,562 cars were served.
“When I came up the line was wrapped around this whole entire block. There are quite a lot of people out here in need. We need things like this. It&aposs greatly appreciated,” said Roy, an Austin resident. Roy chose not to disclose his last name.
The box also contained a box of hygiene items such as baby wipes, shampoo, deodorant, toothpaste, and shaving items.
A limited amount of boxes were available so each household was limited to one food box and one hygiene box.
“Hold your head up, stay safe, and take care of your families,” said Roy.
The Central Texas Food Bank’s next large scale distribution will be on April 20, at Del Valle High School, from 9:00 am until 12 noon. This will be drive-up only, in order to stay compliant with city social distancing rules.
Chef Hank fights food insecurity in Gwinnett one meal at a time
On a sunny afternoon in January, a group of volunteers line Jimmy Carter Boulevard in front of Nett Church in Norcross with yellow signs advertising free to-go meals. Cars cruise through the church’s parking lot, where the drivers are met with smiling faces and freshly prepared meals from Hank Reid and his teammates.
Reid, commonly known as Chef Hank, started handing out meals throughout Gwinnett County at distributions like these with the launch of his nonprofit Lettum Eat in 2019. He had no idea just how badly his community would soon need him.
He initially wanted to sell food out of a truck, but Reid recalls, “God clearly said to me, ‘Give it away for free.’” Now, as a pandemic and business closures have left many needing help feeding their families, Reid and volunteers that work with him are making 200 to 500 meals each weekday that are distributed around the county out of churches.
Having lived in Snellville for more than 20 years, Reid said he felt compelled to use his years of experience in the restaurant industry to fight food insecurity, a problem he saw in his own community.
“I wanted to find a way to use that experience to feed people that, along the way all these years, I didn’t have the opportunity to feed,” said Reid, who has cooked for more than 30 years for restaurants in downtown Atlanta, Gwinnett County and Athens. “I worked in tons of restaurants where people couldn’t afford the meals we served.”
Reid previously owned a Snellville bistro and coffee shop that closed in the wake of the 2008 economic recession. More than a decade later he’d launch Lettum Eat just a few months before the pandemic caused the next large-scale economic downturn.
Hank and the Lettum Eat volunteer chefs prepare hundreds of daily meals in the kitchens of local churches. They package and freeze each meal to ensure the food stays at safe temperatures during hour-long distributions.
Lettum Eat distributes food at various locations throughout Gwinnett County during the week. Before the holiday season, the organization handed out about 2,500 meals per week. It finished the year with 80,000 meals distributed, and it hopes to distribute 150,000 to 175,000 meals by the end of 2021, Reid said.
More than 80,000 people, or 9% of the county, were estimated to be food insecure in Gwinnett in 2018, according to Feeding America’s Map the Meal Gap, an annual food insecurity study.
Woojin Kang, a member of Nett Church, distributes meals for Lettum Eat as a volunteer at his church every Friday. He got involved as a way to give back as the pandemic continues.
“We’re in some crazy times right now, and something that we see is a lot of new faces every week,” Kang said. “That just shows how many people need this, and I think there’s nothing that shows love like some food.”
The distributions couldn’t happen without funding, though.
Coming from federal funding as part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act, the county provided Lettum Eat with a dollar-for-dollar reimbursement grant for any business-related expenses.
The grant expired in December, meaning Lettum Eat relies on donations, fundraisers and catering events to pay its expenses, including selling meals out of its food truck to teachers at local schools on Fridays. The nonprofit has fostered partnerships with about 70 private and corporate donors, as well as seven schools.
After seeing the amount of food thrown away by restaurants, Reid works against food waste by getting food from local farmers, restaurants, food manufacturers and anyone else who calls Lettum Eat offering a donation.
Williams Sims joined Lettum Eat at its inception after Reid pitched him the idea. He now considers Reid a brother, hoping to work with him for the rest of his life in some capacity because of Sims’ appeal for passionate people that “love what they do and know why they do it.”
Going forward, the organization plans to increase the number of meals it distributes and find new ways to raise money, said Sims, who serves as Lettum Eat’s marketing director.
Reid wants to secure a permanent building for Lettum Eat with a kitchen for preparing meals. Its current food truck is the size of a mail van, and the organization hopes to purchase a food truck with a working kitchen, Sims said.
Running Lettum Eat and giving meals to those in need comes natural to Reid, he said. Whether it’s coaching sports, teaching culinary classes or preparing food for others, Reid said it’s his calling to help others.
Reid received a proclamation of recognition for his nonprofit’s work from the City of Snellville in early January. “That just meant the world to me, (that) after 20 years of trying to find out how I can best serve my community, I’ve found a way,” Reid said.
Reflecting on his career, Reid said he felt proud the first time he saw his name lit up on the marquee board of Sweet Georgia’s Juke Joint. But nothing compared to seeing his name lit up on the marquee board for Wednesday night meals at First Baptist Church in Snellville, he said.
“I tell people all the time everybody’s from somewhere,” Reid said. “I’m from Griffin, Georgia, and we have pride. Our charge growing up is to go out there and have an effect in whatever community you’re in. My goal and obligation was to go out and make an impact in the world. I’m supposed to be serving and helping.”
West Seattle commissary kitchen distributes free meals to those in need
As Mister Rogers’ said best, during the emergencies you want to look for the helpers. Keith Mathewson, owner of KBM Seattle, a large commissary production kitchen in West Seattle, is one of those helpers.
He and the tenants of his community kitchen started a project to give back to their community during the coronavirus outbreak. In their first week, they gave out 100 four-person meals, and they hope to keep giving out more and more until the stay-at-home order is lifted.
“A week or two ago, I was watching the evening news and I saw the number of cars in line to get to a food bank in California,” Mathewson told KIRO Radio’s Gee and Ursula Show. “And it occurred to me that there must be a need here in the Seattle area, we’re just not seeing it. So we decided as a community kitchen to make meals and see if we could distribute them.”
There is no restriction as to who can pick up these meals.
“Anybody who’s being impacted is welcome to come by,” he said. “We’re asking people to stay in their cars. We have people who are directing traffic and will hand the food to the window as they pull up in front of the commissary on Findley.”
The address of KBM Seattle is 5600 Delridge Way Southwest, in West Seattle.
Mathewson said the demand was higher than they had expected in the first week. The team prepared 100 meals and ran out. He expects demand to be even higher in the following weeks.
“We’re going to try and provide [meals] as long as we can fund it,” he said.
Volunteers from the commissary kitchen are pitching in to make and distribute the meals, many of whom are food truck owners, caterers, and vendors at farmers markets unable to operate their businesses at this time.
“It’s the whole community, so all of these small businesses that are in the facility, there’s El Chito Tamales, Jemil’s Big Easy catering, Ka Pow Thai food,” he said. “There’s just a dozen or more small companies that although they’re severely impacted, they’re helping out. They’ve got a great deal of free time, and we have a large production kitchen that’s pretty much idle at the moment, so it seemed like a good fit.”
Some of the businesses at KBM Seattle have applied for loans to help survive the pandemic, Mathewson said, but only one person that he knows of has received any kind of relief. That relief came from Amazon as the food truck would usually be in South Lake Union.
“Many of my tenants are either without income on the verge of having gone out of business, a number have decided to go out of business, so there’s been an impact,” he said.
To donate to this group so they can keep delivering meals to families in need during the stay-at-home order, visit their GoFundMe page at Seattle Covid Relief, KBM.
If you, your family, or someone you know could use a meal, Mathewson asks that you put in your request on the GoFundMe page so they have an idea of how many people will show up.
“That being said, nobody’s turned away,” he said. “We’re hoping that we can produce 600 meals this coming week, but it depends on how much funding we have.”
Birmingham nonprofit distributes excess food to those in need
Trays of chicken nuggets that didn’t make it past lunch line counters, baskets of bread restaurants never served, even untouched craft services from arena concerts—they’re all fair game for Magic City Harvest. Since 1995, Magic City Harvest has been recovering excess food in Jefferson, Shelby, and Talladega counties and distributing it to those who need it most.
The premise of the nonprofit is pretty simple. “We pick up food and we take it to people,” says Suzanne Wright, executive director of Magic City Harvest. “We’re the middle men.”
Wright, along with Program Assistant Ann Wallace, one bookkeeper, two truck drivers, and a handful of volunteers make up “the middle men” of Magic City Harvest. Since day one, the organization has dedicated all its efforts to one salient mission—feeding the hungry. They visit restaurants, schools, hospitals, and other benevolent food vendors daily, picking up food that would otherwise go to waste.
“We do all our pickups in the morning and then we disperse it all,” Wright says. “We give it all to feed communities.”
Some of the 31 agencies that Magic City Harvest delivers to include places like Firehouse Ministries, a men’s shelter dedicated to breaking the cycle of homelessness and Lovelady Center, a faith-based nonprofit that provides local women with the tools and resources to break out of poverty and homelessness.
Some days, these shelters might receive leftover school lunches. Other days, it could be high-end fare from nearby restaurants. Recently, Wright says, the team dropped off gourmet food from a Metallica concert—the performers and their staff couldn’t eat all the craft services provided, and it would have been thrown away once they left town. So rather than let it go to waste, they called Magic City Harvest.
“We were there late that night, getting all the food,” Wallace says. “They had salmon at Lovelady the next day.”
Before it was the well-oiled machine that it is today, Magic City Harvest was the brainchild of a handful of UAB students and faculty members. The group sought to locate prepared, perishable food in Birmingham and distribute it to food-insecure communities. Their initiative eventually became Magic City Harvest—its mission remaining the same today.
Currently, Wright says, the organization picks up about 300,000 pounds of food a year. “To put that into perspective, that’s the same weight as about three Vulcans,” she says. The nonprofit uses two sizable refrigerated trucks to haul food to communities in need throughout the area. It’s a labor of love that drivers have down to a science.
“After the truck drivers pick up food, then they know exactly who takes what and who needs what,” Wright explains. “In their minds, they think, ‘I’ve got 50 turkeys. Who can handle that much food?’”
Even with all their efforts, however, Magic City Harvest is only able to feed a fraction of the city’s food-insecure population. According to Alabama Possible, an organization dedicated to breaking down barriers to prosperity in the state, 19 percent of Jefferson County, 9.6 percent of Shelby County, and 18.5 percent of Talladega County are food insecure. Large portions of those percentages are children.
After working in the education system for many years, Wallace says she’s seen firsthand the dire need for food in some of Birmingham’s communities.
“There were some children who, when they went home on Friday, wouldn’t eat until they came back on Monday,” Wallace says. It’s not uncommon, she adds, to see those same students years later in some of the agencies that Magic City Harvest serves. Without adequate access to food or shelter, all other goals become secondary.
For Wright, signing on as executive director at Magic City Harvest fulfilled a very personal need to give back to her community. “My dad was the youngest of six children, and after his father left, his neighbor noticed he needed clothes and called the Salvation Army,” she recalls. “Me working here, it’s just kind of paying it forward. If someone hadn’t stepped out to help my father, then I probably wouldn’t be here today.”
These personal reasons, coupled with staggering need, keep the Magic City Harvest team motivated to continue collecting food and providing it to philanthropic agencies in and around the city. Most people are just one paycheck or one bad decision away, Wright says, from not knowing where their next meal will come from.
“It can be solved. The food is there,” Wright says. “It just has to be taken to the right places.”
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Between June 16, when the program began, and July 18, FAM served 4,538 meals. Becca Carpenter, communications manager for The River Food Pantry, said 972 people were served in the first week of the program, comparable to the number of meals served at the onsite community meal program that was canceled because of COVID-19.
Any donations to FAM received by Sept. 1 will be matched up to $25,000, Osborn-Senatus said. She said there also are plenty of opportunities for volunteering, and especially in need are people to prepare and distribute meals four days a week.
Tuttle said there's not too much of a difference between creating meals served in the building and preparing meals that can be cooked at home, apart from there being less variety in the meals that are served. But the focus is still on providing healthy meals.
"So far, we've been able to put out consistently good meals with nutritious ingredients," Tuttle said. "We try to get vegetables or salads into each meal, try to get nutrition out into the community."
Still, he misses seeing and visiting with the regulars. He's hopeful that there will be more opportunities for that in the future, looking forward to plans for some sort of outdoor meal during the summer.
"I try to get out and actually do the handout when I can," he said. "It's nice to see all the old faces — it's really great to talk to them again."
Osborn-Senatus said the pantry hasn't had a problem keeping up with food demands, particularly because of its partnership with community groups including Second Harvest, a local food bank. She said staff is grateful to be able to provide this type of community meal, even if it looks a bit different for now.
Caridon Foundation distributes food ration packs to those most in need
Caridon Foundation would like to say a huge thank you to Croydon Council, the Ministry of Defence and FareShare for donating food ration packs to us. These are now being distributed to those most indeed.
FareShare is a national organisation that is fighting hunger and food waste by redistributing surplus food to frontline charities. FareShare has redistributed enough food for 57 million meals to vulnerable people – that’s 24,074 tonnes of food that otherwise would have been wasted.
The Ministry of Defence use ration packs for the army when they are out on exercise and recently, through collaborating with MOD and FareShare, Croydon Council has been using the packs to provide meals to people living in hostels who need to self-isolate because the food is easy to prepare without access to shared kitchen facilities.
The packs have a mixture of foods, including full meals and snacks, and each pack contains around 4000 calories. The meals can be heated in boiling water or can be eaten cold.
Last week, Croydon Council donated 400 of these surplus food ration packs to Caridon Foundation, which helps vulnerable tenants and those as risk of homelessnesss.
Mario Carrozzo, CEO of Caridon Foundation said:
“We are extremely grateful for this initiative by MOD and FareShare, and to Croydon Council for thinking of us as an organisation who would be able to offer these packs to some of our homeless referrals most in need. Our very own Caridon Foundation Housing Officers, Ebeneezer, Sibonwe and Chris Blake, have donated their time to collect the boxes and package them up and have already started distributing them.
There are millions of people in the UK struggling to afford to eat and yet millions of tonnes of food is wasted every year. Caridon Foundation not only fights to put a roof over peoples’ heads, but recognises how imperative it is that we ensure people have other basic necessities as well so that they can take care of themselves properly and then start to rebuild their lives.
Thank you Croydon Council, Ministry of Defence and Fareshare for this fantastic collaborative initiative.”
'Farmers to Families' distributes food to those in need in Minot
A new food assistance program touching many cities across the country helped out the people of Minot today by providing healthy food.
With the pandemic impacting the pockets of many in the Minot community, Great Plains Food Bank stepped up to provide fresh produce to people in need.
At this drive-through, fruits and veggies are on the house.
“Healthy produce is sometimes hard to come by for some our clients across the state,” said Great Plains Food Bank Regional Services Manager Rachel Monge.
The Farmers to Families Food Box Program , a collaborative effort between the USDA, local food banks like Great plains and city serve are trying to change that by distributing goods to those with food insecurity.
“We are happy to be able to offer them seven different choices of produce in each box so that they have more fresh food for their families,” said Monge.
Volunteers said they will load 1,400 boxes of fruits and vegetables, but individuals are not the only ones who received the help.
“We also came up earlier and picked up boxes for the food pantry,” said Mary Carlson with the Lord's Cupboard Food Pantry.
Our Lady of Grace and the Salvation Army food pantry also got boxes of produce to continue helping those in the community.
Great Plains distributed food at Minot State from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. Friday with no identification or eligibility requirements.
Carlson said at some points there were as many as 200 cars in line at a time.
“It was awesome to see all these cars lined up. We were very happy to see so many people take advantage of this awesome program,” said Carlson.
Harvesting hope for people in the Magic City.
Anyone who missed out Friday can come to their next giveaway June 26.
The program will continue in Mandan on June 16.
For more information on the Farmers to Families food box program visit their website.