Agency Partner Spotlight: STEP – St. Louis Park Emergency Program

June 24, 2013 By: Sara Blair Category: WordPress Import

Second Harvest Heartland distributes food to approximately 1,000 food shelves and other agency partners in its service area. These agency partners work hard to provide food directly to clients.

“The most caring people that I’ve ever met … like being part of a family…” This comment made during a recent survey illuminates the important role the St. Louis Park Emergency Program (STEP) plays in the community, from providing food to school supplies, clothing and other essentials. STEP is a mainstay of St. Louis Park, operating since 1975 with a mission to empower lives and restore hope. They distribute more than 3,000 pounds of food and personal items to 40 families every day, serving 28 percent of all children who attend St. Louis Park schools.

STEP also stocks hard-to-find and expensive items such as kosher meat. STEP is able to serve more clients each year because of financial donations as well as community involvement events including: Pack the Pews, a weekend initiative with faith communities to collect food to stock the shelves during summer months; donations from Minnesota Foodshare; and the Garden Gleaning Project, a neighbor-to-neighbor project to source locally grown produce from nearby community gardens.

One of the biggest changes the STEP staff has seen in the last five years is the demand for and availability of fresh foods. “Our clients have responded so positively to fresh produce that it just flies out of the foodshelf,” says Julie LaPointe, STEP program manager.

STEP is more than a food shelf. Clients also meet with a licensed social worker at every visit, helping address issues such as health care, housing, family relationships, finances, employment and more. “Our goal is to establish relationships with everyone who uses our services so that people feel comfortable problem-solving when a crisis arises,” continues Julie. “STEP is helping people stay stable.”


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