Champions of Hope: Individual Supporters Doing Extraordinary Things
We’re passionate in our belief that we can end hunger, but we can’t do it alone. By collaborating with people like you—agency partners, individual donors, volunteers and organizations—we’re identifying and creating new ways to get more meals to more hungry people.
Meet a few of the individuals that we are proud to call champions of hope. Every day, these individuals make extraordinary contributions to help others in our community.
Prairie Five Community Action
Prairie Five Community Action, an agency partner, provides food to those in need in rural Minnesota. Through four food shelves in five counties, the organization uses grants, creativity and compassion to improve the availability of healthy foods to more people in its communities.
“‘Helping people, changing lives’ is a statement I use many times as I do my job. If for one day they do not have to worry about where to come up with money for food to feed their family then that is a successful day,” Angela Nissen, Prairie Five Community Action Outreach Coordinator, said.
Jo is a committed volunteer who currently works as a Second Harvest Heartland Appreciation Steward, where she calls donors to thank them for their support.
“Knowing that Second Harvest Heartland reaches out to our immediate and surrounding communities means so much to my family, so we want to give back,” Jo said. “We are fortunate and believe that giving to those in need is what we are supposed to do. Not out of guilt, but out of compassion.”
American Indian Magnet School
American Indian Magnet School (AIMS) has been an enthusiastic partner in Second Harvest Heartland’s Food + You pilot program, offering monthly Family Food Boxes. Several staff members have gone above and beyond in their involvement with the project to increase food resources for students and families through a comprehensive strategy of outreach and teacher education.
Gary Pahl of Pahl’s Farm
Gary Pahl has been donating to Second Harvest Heartland for more than four years. What started with a donation of a couple truckloads of excess sweet corn has developed into a partnership that is rewarding for everyone involved. Last year, Pahl’s Farm donated more than 1 million pounds of fresh produce.
“Until I started working with Second Harvest Heartland, I didn’t realize the need was so big. The efficiency and scale of the organization really solidified the partnership for me,” Gary said. “I know that the work is important and being able to help is also very gratifying for our employees. Many of them have experienced what it’s like to be hungry at some point in their lives, and now they have a chance to give back.”
Sandy was the Operations Administrative Assistant for Lunds & Byerlys before retiring last October, as well as a Retail Food Rescue program champion for Second Harvest Heartland for more than five years. Her tireless support has been the driving force behind the store’s significant growth in the program—growing donations nearly 50 percent from 2013 to 2015—resulting in Lunds & Byerlys being recognized as a Hunger Hero award winner last year.
“I know that there are many people who are one lay-off or medical issue away from needing help to provide food for their families,” Sandey said. “Many of them are people who would never have expected to be in that situation. We as a community must be ready to help when help is needed.”
Valley Outreach, an agency partner, provides food, clothing and more to eligible St. Croix Valley residents. Through partnerships with local health care providers, schools and other agencies in the east metro, they are pioneering new ways to increase access to fresh and nutritious foods to our community.
“We do so much more than simply give people food because we are client-centered. It is not just about quantity of food, it’s about offering quality and nutritious foods,” Tracy Maki, Executive Director of Valley Outreach, said. “This means that families experiencing poverty are treated with the same respect and dignity any of us expect and deserve. You are not ‘less than’ when you come to Valley Outreach.”
Jill Doescher is a true leadership donor. As one of the first female litigators in Minnesota, Jill is still enacting change even in retirement by providing incredible gifts to accelerate our five-year strategic plan.
“I choose to work with Second Harvest Heartland because nothing good happens if people don’t know where their next meal is coming from,” Jill said.
Loaves and Fishes
Every day is a confirmation of Loaves and Fishes’ commitment to hunger relief. Cathy Maes, Executive Director, says that it’s all about the guest. “It’s about the people at the end of the meal,” said Cathy. The idea that this may be the only meal that their guests eat for a few days is what keeps this non-profit growing.
To help bring more food to the community, Loaves and Fishes has expanded to include a food truck as well as a free farmer’s market. These programs were started in the hopes of bringing their nutritious meals to high-need areas and to provide to people that are not able to afford their grocery bills.