Lyndale Neighborhood Food Action: The 48-hour Pop-Up Food Bank

When Kitchen Staff Goes Hungry

After the restaurants of Minneapolis were forced closed to try and slow the spread of Covid-19, most kitchen workers suddenly found themselves without work and pay. Fortunately, government unemployment benefits were there to soften the blow.

But not for everybody.

Lots of restaurant workers weren’t eligible for unemployment benefits — and they weren’t making all that much money to begin with. Nobody knew how long they’d be out of work, but families were already getting hungry.

Seeing the growing need for food and supplies, local members of the Lyndale Neighborhood Association quickly formed a plan — a pop-up food bank to deliver boxed provisions throughout the Twin Cities Metro Area to struggling workers and their families. Josh and Devin of the Lyndale Neighborhood Association and Powerplant Community Garden stepped up first and offered to donate produce. A simple fundraiser was launched and quickly gained traction. Within 24 hours over $3,000 dollars had been donated by Minneapolis restaurant workers. Meals on Wheels Minneapolis got on board, too, offering management support and introductions to area food producers.

Lyndale Neighborhood Food Action was launched the next day and a new Covid-19 food bank was born.

The checklist they put together to launch the operation was pretty simple:

  • A safe place to collect, pack, and distribute the food
  • Enough food to support 50 families for 4-5 days
  • Volunteers to make the deliveries
  • A way to manage it all

With the plan in hand, everything came together quickly:

  • Volunteers from the Lyndale Neighborhood Association occupied the local community building, replete with refrigeration and hand-washing facilities for volunteers
  • Donations came in, allowing volunteers to start placing bulk wholesale orders while other volunteers hit the phones for extra donations and just about anything they could get their hands on: shampoo, cooking oil, non-perishable food items and lots of boxes to pack into
  • Local gardening volunteers shared tomatoes and potatoes
  • Restaurant servers and bartenders stepped in to be available to make deliveries
  • Beacon, the text message-based dispatching platform we’ve built to connect people in need with people who can help, was set up. Tethered to a personal hotspot, the volunteers were quickly trained to use it for coordinating deliveries

Within 48 hours of a casual conversation in the community garden, the Lyndale Neighborhood Association assumed command of the entire operations and by the next initial deliveries were being made to families that were already 6 weeks out from their last paycheck.


Right Place at the Right Time

Trek Medics hadn’t planned on participating in supply delivery, but with COVID-19 all around us, it was clearly an “all hands on deck” situation — you do you what you can with what you have.

Lyndale Neighborhood Food Action is making good on that, running an operation that now delivers groceries to 50+ families scattered around Minneapolis in 30 minutes or less — truly!

We’re proud to have been able to help in a meaningful way and are glad to let the team continue using Beacon going forward. They have big plans, they have early adopters, and they’re incorporating more local farmers for produce to continue serving the most vulnerable. Subscribing to our philosophy of doing what you can with what you have, Lyndale Community Action is helping to keep the vulnerable fed.

It looks like we might be seeing the curve flatten.  At least we hope so.  However, we are leaving the Lyndale Community Food Action in good hands as they prepare for what the future brings.  Armed with Beacon, and a sense of purpose, they are prepared to dial down or scale up their efforts as we head into summer and all of the unknowns associated with a pandemic.

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