Food banks give back with donation from Feeding America

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(ABC 6 News) – The CEO of Feeding America visited Rochester Wednesday to recognize the partnership between Channel One Regional Food Bank and Second Harvest Heartland as they received a $200,000 boundless collaboration grant from Feeding America.

The money will be used to bring Minnesota Central Kitchen, a prepared meals program from the Twin Cities, to Rochester.

"Thank you to the two food banks who are coming together in such collaboration to make certain that food gets to everyone who needs it. Recognizing that that so often, the people who need it the most, don’t have access to refrigerators or stoves, so they need prepared foods in order to feed themselves and their families. And thank you so much for being one of the founding members of this effort right here in Rochester," Claire Babineaux-Fontenot, CEO of Feeding America, said.

Bleu Duck Kitchen in Rochester is just one of the founding restaurant partners who will be preparing meals for those in need.

Because of the pandemic, one in nine Minnesotans are experiencing hunger today. This is one way to help out those locally.

"We want to give back to our community as much as possible, as they’ve supported us through and through in the last five years, especially over this last year," Jennifer Lester, co-owner of Bleu Duck Kitchen, said.

Channel One will use its ability to rescue food and source donated food and give it to local chefs like those at Bleu Duck Kitchen to make meals delivered right to those who need it.

"I think it kind of just brings us back to the roots of who we are and what we do best is to give back and collaborate on every level possible," Lester said.

The families with the Jeremiah Program are just some of the people that will benefit from these prepared meals through Minnesota Central Kitchen which will remove the barrier of grocery shopping and cooking for single moms and their children.

"They don’t have to cook, they don’t have to source the food, make sure they have grocery shopping. The delivery just eliminates one more barrier," Carissa Drake, Development Coordinator for Jeremiah Program, said.

Restaurants like Bleu Duck don’t profit from this, but the goal is that they’re able to recoup their cost and pay their staff, supporting the restaurant community as a whole.

"Which ultimately, supporting the restaurant community, prevents food insecurity in the first place, is the big goal of this program," Virginia Merritt, executive director at Channel One Regional Food Bank, said.

This collaboration between Channel One Regional Food Bank, local restaurants and caterers and community partners will allow over 2,000 meals to be distributed a week to those facing food insecurity in Rochester.

The goal is for 8,000 meals to be given out in Rochester between Oct. 4 and the end of November.