Food to Get Back on Your Feet
Walk into any of our food shelf partner locations, and you can generally expect a common theme. Depending on the size of the organization, you may find boxes, refrigerators, shelves, pallets of food. But this is not the case for Good in the ‘Hood’s Shoe Away Hunger space. One walks into their warehouse and sees no food, but countless barrels of… shoes.
“What we do is we collect shoes,” Founder and Executive Director of Good in the ‘Hood Shawn Morrison said with a grin. “We shamelessly collect them. If you take yours off, watch out!”
Almost ten years ago, Pastor Shawn met a single mom in need he will never forget. He had just started a “9-1-1 program,” a project where he sought to provide nine families with one week of groceries per one month. At the end of one of the distributions, he and his family had some groceries left over.
They didn’t have refrigeration available and wanted to ensure this fresh food didn’t go to waste. Shawn decided they should go door-to-door and start asking people if they could use the groceries. He knocked on a door, and explained why he was there.
“A woman named Rochelle answered the door,” Shawn said. “She started sobbing.” Rochelle cried openly in front of Shawn for a long time, and he said, “Rochelle, are you okay? What’s going on?”
I’m a working mom, Rochelle said to him. I’ve been trying to stay off of assistance—I want to make it on my own. But I just got my paycheck, bought all my groceries for the month, and my refrigerator went out. I lost all my food. I asked God what I’m supposed to do, and a half hour later, you knocked on my door.
“I got the opportunity to help them,” Shawn said, “and that was very powerful for me. Hunger is the symptom to something bigger. But if you don’t deal with that up front, they can’t deal with the rest of their issues. They are so distracted by the constant gnawing pain of hunger.”
Since being so moved by his interaction with Rochelle, the 9-1-1 program has evolved and subdivided into many hunger relief programs. One of the ways these programs are funded is through shoes.
All donated shoes are sorted by size and quality. Shawn, his team and their 2,500 annual volunteers organize the pairs by size and arrange them in a bus, which tours around the Twin Cities metro and beyond to sell the shoes for a suggested donation of $5. Their monthly goal is to sell 3,000 pairs.
Shoe Away Hunger not only provides revenue for Good in the ‘Hood’s food programs, but also affordable shoes for those who struggle buying retail-priced pairs.
Between the revenue from the successful shoe sales and their community partners, including Second Harvest Heartland, Shoe Away Hunger is able to help provide food for about 4,500 individuals per month via their backpack school programs, food shelves, holiday meal programs and more.
“This would never have happened to us if Second Harvest Heartland hadn’t given food to us at a premium price,” Shawn said. “And the [Second Harvest Heartland truck] drivers have been really great—we don’t have the motorized jacks that they do, and they help us without complaining. That’s extra work for them. It’s been a wonderful relationship.”