It’s Not Just About Meatballs. It Never Was.
You may have seen SIMEK’S meatballs and lasagna in the freezer aisle at the grocery store. But there’s something behind SIMEK’s as a company that really gets to the meat of giving back.
SIMEK’S, a quickly growing brand, is located right in the heart of St. Paul Park, Minn. It’s built into the business model to carve 10 percent of all profits for charity. “But we wanted to do more,” SIMEK’S President Lindsey Hickey said, “So we changed our model to donate a meal for every product sold.”
“We are trying to make that impact in the community – let’s not get big and forget the core of who we are,” Lindsey said. “You have to do things differently when your mission is to give back.”
Although SIMEK’S has contributed to a wide variety of causes, hunger is the core. The most recent initiative is One Gives One™. SIMEK’S keeps track of every product sold in each retail store, sorts the numbers by zip code, and then donates meals to the Feeding America food bank serving that zip code.
For example, any SIMEK’S meatballs or lasagna product purchased in Minnesota and western Wisconsin donates one meal to Second Harvest Heartland, which we will then distribute to someone nearby. Any product sold in another Feeing America food bank’s service area will make an impact for that region. This model keeps the impact local for customers.
“Food is a connector,” Lindsey said. “It brings people together. To make a meal and serve it to someone is a special thing to be able to do. Using that time to get closer with family is something that has been part of my whole life.”
Since she was young, Lindsey’s family has had a special tradition called “Corners.” Every family member has the chance to have the floor and share about their day. Lindsey says her family doesn’t just do this tradition once in a while—it’s every time they have dinner together. Life is busy, and it’s important to sit down in that intentional gathering space. ”It’s what facilitates our time to share with our parents and siblings about our day,” Lindsey said. “Every single meal. What’d you do today? It’s your Corner.”
Food isn’t just about feeling full. It’s not even just about getting nutrition. When Second Harvest Heartland says Food Changes Everything™, we mean food is a common denominator, a reason to get together, a facilitator for relationships and family gatherings. There is no replacement for what food brings to us as people. And that’s just one of many reasons Second Harvest Heartland and all our food shelf, food pantry and meal program partners do what we do. Everyone deserves that sense of place and that connector.
“I’m so fortunate for the ability to not have to worry about where my next meal is coming from,” Lindsey said. “It almost makes me emotional. Especially if you’re trying to provide for your family, but even if you’re not, if you’re a senior or single. No life is more important than another.”
“There’s so many opportunities to come together and fix the problem of hunger,” Lindsey said. “Hopefully anything we do helps spread the word at least a tiny bit, maybe other companies will catch on.”
Whether you’re part of a corporation, you’re a group looking for an activity to help others or you want to make a difference right now, you can give families something they need—not just to feel full, but to feel connected.