Feeding America’s Feed Nourish Connect Conference Comes To Minnesota
In mid-August, hundreds of members of the Feeding America Food Bank Network arrived in Minneapolis for the Feed Nourish Connect Conference to share best practices and forge valuable relationships in the fight to end hunger.
With the FNC Conference being held in Minnesota, it gave Second Harvest Heartland an excellent opportunity to showcase some of our strategies in providing support to our neighbors and partners.
Our CEO Allison O’Toole welcomed conference attendees to Minnesota during FNC’s opening remarks along with a call to action.
“When I look at the arc of the last few years, I see that food bankers have been handed a moment to make hunger history. The moment is now. We have the country’s attention; we’ve rallied resources and increased the community’s understanding of our work. We’ve asked folks to watch us, to turn our way to see change and hope.
The question is, what are we going to do and say now that they’re looking?”
Second Harvest Heartland’s Director of Community Partnerships addresses food bankers at the Feed Nourish Connect Conference
This is a question that Second Harvest Heartland and Food Banks across the Feeding America Network ask themselves every day. Second Harvest Heartland held a panel on our bold regional plans to end hunger, examining the dimensions of food insecurity, and taking the approach of not only feeding people in need, but preventing hunger and tracking our progress and our failures. This data-driven model is meant to advocate across the board as Second Harvest Heartland aims to move the needle in the fight against hunger.
Second Harvest Heartland not only shared their ideas at the Feed Nourish Connect Conference, but also opened our doors to attendees to see some of our plans in action. We welcomed members of the Food Bank Network to our facility in Brooklyn Park, where guests learned about our warehouse operations and management systems, our state-of-the-art volunteer center, and had plenty of time to ask questions about our Second Harvest Heartland Care Center and how our team manages peak produce season.
Attendees of the conference arriving at our Brooklyn Park offices
Attendees were also invited into our Kitchen Coalition partner kitchens, where Kitchen Coalition staff and restaurant owners answered questions about how kitchens turn food bank ingredients into nutritious, freshly prepared meals to distribute to our neighbors.
Joshua Matthews, Chief Operating Officer at the Food Bank of North Alabama toured two of our Kitchen Coalition partners: Cheng Heng, which serves Cambodian ready-to-eat meals, and Homi, a Mexican restaurant in Saint Paul. “I was blown away by the model that Second Harvest Heartland has come up with. My food bank does not have a commercial kitchen, and so this program was of particular interest to me as we find so often that there are vulnerable populations within our community where it’s really difficult for them to prepare their own meals, particularly seniors and disabled folks who have a hard time standing for a long time. I learned it is possible to serve thousands of prepared meals without having a massive commercial kitchen.”
Conference Attendees tour Homi’s kitchen
Second Harvest Heartland was not only grateful to introduce our home state with Feed Nourish Connect attendees but also introduce our facilities, partners, and bold plans for cutting hunger in half by 2030. As we get ready to rethink how we operate, this was an amazing opportunity to connect with other food bankers about what we can do differently to solve hunger. We are on the verge of making some big changes and we know that our colleagues are ready as well. We always look forward to collaborating, listening, and taking action with our food bank partners across the country as we continue our fight to end hunger together.