One of Our Longtime Food Shelf Partners Reaches Major Milestone!

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November 6, 2017 By: JT Pinther Category: SHH News

Maren Hardy went to a nonprofit leadership conference not long ago and attended a presentation, and she sat down along with many other professionals. The presenter talked about many social groups—people of different races, ethnic backgrounds and many more identities. It seemed as though every marginalized community was mentioned, but Maren listened for a group that was not once talked about.

She was not surprised. “Forgotten—we’re like the invisible people,” Maren described. “We’re used to it, but we shouldn’t have to be, because we’re the First People.”

Maren is the Food Shelf Manager at Division of Indian Work (DIW), an organization that just this year achieved their 501(c)3 status, though they’ve been operating in Minneapolis for 65 years. DIW, now a multi-program organization, started with their food shelf, called Horizons Unlimited. Maren says it’s still their largest program, and the community needs it.

“We have 200+ families come through every month, or 6,000 to 8,000 pounds of food,” Maren said. “We could always use more—people get their EBT/SNAP in the middle of the month, and then we’re busy the fourth and first weeks of the month [when SNAP funds are used up for individuals].”

There are many food shelves and meal programs (Second Harvest Heartland alone partners with nearly 1,000), but DIW’s Horizons Unlimited is the largest that serves urban American Indians specifically. This is an important distinction for many of their clients, Maren said. “A lot of Natives don’t have transportation. And in this area, we have the largest concentration of urban natives in the metro.”

DIW also works hard to provide culturally specific foods such as bison, wild rice and venison, but Maren said these foods are very expensive. On a budget of only $1,500 a month to serve more than 200 families, DIW has to make hard choices about what they can and can’t afford.

Maren says DIW’s relationship with Second Harvest Heartland has been pivotal. And while culturally-specific foods are expensive, we’ve made strides to serve DIW as a partner in whatever way we can. “Right now we’re signed up for the venison program through the State,” Maren said. “Lisa [a Second Harvest Heartland employee] sent me the link to it so we could sign up!”

“I love Second Harvest Heartland,” Maren said. “It’s been amazing. Over the years, they’ve always looked out for us because they know we have such a small budget. They will email me when they have extra stuff—I believe they’ve gone above and beyond the call of duty.”

DIW’s Horizons Unlimited food shelf has expanded to being open four days a week and then distributing on “Bonus Friday,” a day DIW offers any food received from Retail Food Rescue coordinated by Second Harvest Heartland. Maren said the food shelf is much different than when she first started.

“I’ve used a food shelf. I’m fortunate that it was only a small time in my life,” Maren shared. “My job isn’t to wonder why you’re here—it’s to make sure you leave with something. I know everyone’s name, we’re loud, we’re boisterous. People will pop in just to say hi. That’s how it should be—it’s not a bad thing that you need food. We all need food.”


By supporting Second Harvest Heartland, you’re supporting organizations like Division of Indian Work and the nearly 1,000 other partnering programs in Minnesota and western Wisconsin. Learn how you can make a difference.


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