The Promise of Fresh Produce in North Minneapolis

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August 30, 2018 By: Tina Mortimer Category: Hunger Stories

A few years ago, three congregations in the Camden community of north Minneapolis came together to begin addressing the poverty, substance abuse and violence that had, for far too long, overwhelmed their neighborhood streets. The goal was simple: create a community that provides safe places for kids to hang-out, where neighbors know and help each other, and food is accessible to all. They called their joint venture The Camden Promise.

In just a few years, the small but mighty group has made a noticeable impact. Recently, with the help of church volunteers and a grant from Second Harvest Heartland, The Camden Promise launched its first ever large-scale summer produce giveaway at Gethsemane Lutheran Church in north Minneapolis.

The fresh produce distribution is part of a community block party and peace walk event held twice a month on Saturdays during the summer and early fall. By creating a festive atmosphere where everyone is welcome, organizers hope to make the event an annual gathering where local families feel safe and supported by their community.  

Michelle began volunteering at Gethsemane Lutheran Church at 4656 Colfax Ave. N, the official home of The Camden Promise, when she moved to the area with her four children in 2016. She said the church and volunteers have made her neighborhood a better place to live.

“Having fresh produce available here twice a month is such a blessing,” she said. “Especially considering how many fruits and vegetables we eat in our house.”

Aqeisha visited the fresh produce distribution for the first time with her aunt, Ethel, a member of the church who volunteers there every Saturday. To Aqeisha, who has Lupus, fresh produce isn’t just nice to have, it’s a necessity.

“With Lupus, I have to eat healthy and make sure I’m getting enough fruits and vegetables and water,” she said. “This place is so important to me and the community.”

A natural caretaker who raised seven children and two grandchildren, Aqeisha uses the produce she collects from the distribution not only to make healthy meals for herself, but to cook for her homebound neighbors. She even takes requests.

“I cook them whatever they want, as long as it’s healthy and I have the ingredients,” she said. “I share my food with whoever wants it.”

Aqeisha said the combined fresh produce distribution, block party and prayer walk are a much-needed blessing to the community.

“We need this,” she said. “There’s so much bad going on in the world today. We need a peaceful place to come together. There are a lot of souls out there lost that need saving, and we have to do more to help people.”

To Aqeisha, a bag of fresh food and a little conversation is a good start.

“A lot of people just need someone to talk to, and this place brings people together.”

In addition to the food shelf, open the first and third Saturday of the month, The Camden Promise offers a summer lunch program, a Sunday breakfast program, and a hot dog BBQ and block party on Wednesday nights. 

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Submitted by Dr Kemp at: September 6, 2018
New Mt Calvary Missionary Baptist Church is proud to be a ministry Partner with Gethsemane and proud to have our own Sis Ethel featured in this article

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