Feed the Need: How Minnesota Central Kitchen Rochester is helping people in need

(ABC 6 NEWS) – Channel One Regional Food Bank helps people across the region, one way is through the program Minnesota Central Kitchen Rochester.

This program started in the Twin Cities and came to Rochester after Channel One received a grant from Feeding American.

"To really fill a need of a gap in prepared meals in the community, as well as a decline in work for restaurant workers," Channel One Director of Development and Communications, Jessica Sund said.

Here’s how it works: donated or purchased food from the food bank is sent to local restaurants like Canadian Honker or Cameo at the Castle to be prepared.

"Each week we kind of just get together chefs, Zach, myself and the other sous chef and we will just plan a meal and we have kind of grown towards the comfort food kind of thing," Cameo at the Castle Executive Chef, Brandon Adams said.

They’ve cooked up everything from meatballs and red sauce to chicken and biscuits.

Cameo serves The Jeremiah Program each week, a place where single moms and their kids get help with housing and childcare so they can prioritize their education as well as their children.

"In order to provide a meal where families can kind of grab and go right, it’s like one thing that they don’t have to think about," Jeremiah Program Rochester Executive Director, Ally Hanten Ebert said.

Channel One serves about 7,000 meals a month, plus the restaurants are reimbursed each week for their labor.

"These meals actually only end up costing a little under 4 dollars a meal so it really is cost-efficient and it is something that is sustainable when we all work together like this," Sund said.

And for the chefs, it’s a chance to get creative and help the community.

"It’s like you know us chefs don’t have necessarily all the time in the world to go do things like that so any way we can do to help this is our way to do it," Adams said.

Originally this was a pilot program, but Channel One received another grant to help keep this program going into the next year.

For the future, Channel One hopes to expand this program to other counties and towns.