Being Nurtured is About More Than Food
In the heart of the Phillips community of Minneapolis, the Waite House, a Pillsbury United Communities location, has been working to meet the needs of the neighborhood since 1958. Waite House provides food, housing resources, employment programs, support with transportation, youth development, civic engagement opportunities and so many other resources to help the community thrive.
In mid-January, Ethan Neal, Food and Health Coordinator with Waite House joined Second Harvest Heartland at the Let’s Kick Hunger Day Radiothon to share more about our partnership and the incredible food resources that Waite House provides.
Starting with a food shelf, the program reaches approximately 2,500 families per month and that number continues to grow. The food shelf provides a short-term solution to meeting the food and nutrition needs of every family that walks in the door.
“Of the food that serves the people coming to our food shelf, the majority is going to come from Second Harvest Heartland,” shared Ethan.
The food shelf plays an important role providing stability, but Ethan is focused on finding long-term solutions to the issues that cause people to need help from the food shelf in the first place. In his words, it’s not just about being fed, it’s about being nurtured.
That’s where urban agriculture comes in! With five gardens, Ethan and his team grow fresh produce for the food shelf and produce distributions and create an opportunity for a deeper connection to the community for many of the people they serve that feel displaced.
“I understand that as a food shelf manager I am just a band aid, I am providing food for a day. But if we can teach people how to garden, if we can get them in spots to help them get their feet on the ground, get them education and training,” explains Ethan.
During the interview, Ethan shared a story highlighting how all their programs intertwine to truly nurture everyone they serve. An individual that was learning to garden grew an eggplant, nothing he’s eaten before. When the eggplant was ready to harvest, the man picked it and bit into it like an apple. His reaction, like anyone else’s would likely be, was that eggplants are terrible. But this experience presented an opportunity to educate. Today, that individual is in the culinary arts training program, learning to cook and helps serve a free, healthy lunch each day at the Waite House. He now cooks eggplant, is learning to support himself and give back to his community.
Second Harvest Heartland works with nearly 1,000 partner food shelves, pantries and other meal programs every day to reach the one in 10 Minnesotans who don’t know where their next meal is coming from. Most of these partners are local food shelves, just like Pillsbury United Communities' Waite House.
Join us this March and help support our local food shelf partners by joining the Minnesota FoodShare March Campaign!