Spreading Food, Shoes and Kindness
Is it possible to run a food shelf without a main building, warehouse, or even a street address? As the executive director and founder of Good in the ’Hood, Shawn Morrison has used his lack of a home base as a strategy to fight hunger on a shoestring budget: “We have a take-it-to-the-people approach,” he explained. “We bring food to the communities where proximity is an issue. We partner with individuals, and we partner with organizations. At Good in the ’Hood, we invite others to join us and to become the leaders.”
Good in the ’Hood, founded in 2003, brings fresh produce, canned goods, dairy and protein directly to schools, colleges and churches in the Twin Cities area. Good in the ’Hood also runs eight pop-up food pantries through the Foodshelf-In-A-Box program.
While unorthodox, Morrison’s approach to hunger relief has been highly effective. “We’re able to feed someone for a week with two and a half dollars because we’re not a brick-and-mortar,” Morrison explained. In 2018, Good in the ’Hood fed more than 84,000 individuals. “We are feeding people, mobilizing people and creating partnerships with long-term transformation in mind,” said Morrison. “We just look for innovative ways to bring resources—that starts with food.”
More Than Food
At Good in the ’Hood, food is only the beginning. “We create a platform using food, and then we add bonuses to it,” Morrison said. Along with food, Good in the ’Hood brings backpacks and school supplies to students at the start of each schoolyear. The organization also provides shoes for students and others.
One frigid day in January, Morrison recalled seeing a mother and child wearing only flipflops while visiting a local food shelf. Recognizing that both food and shoes are important, Morrison started Shoe Away Hunger. The program collects gently-used shoes from shoe drives and transports them on the Shoe Bus to local communities. Morrison also receives weekly shoe donations from Minnesota-based Schuler Shoes. People can get a pair of shoes from the bus for a suggested $5 donation. Last winter, Good in the ’Hood distributed 5,000 pairs of boots! With the funds raised by Shoe Away Hunger, Good in the ’Hood can buy more food to feed more people. “We do hunger-relief-plus,” said Morrison with a smile.
As one of eight children raised by a single mother, Morrison feels fortunate that he always had enough to eat. “We always had enough because we were able to plant and tend a garden that provided adequate produce to feed such a large family,” he said.
By helping neighbors access food, shoes and more, Morrison hopes that Good in the ’Hood will spread “a contagious momentum of kindness.” He explained, “My sense of purpose is to invest my time in a way that is collaborative and a way that had community-mindedness in view through focused acts of kindness. Our mission statement is to influence, inspire and impact people for good.”
Find out more about Second Harvest Heartland’s agency partners like Good in the ’Hood.