Woman in a red sweatshirt in a wheelchair

Lunch Time with Kitchen Coalition at Pathways on the Park

On a cold and sunny day in Saint Paul, a driver for The Sanneh Foundation named Universe is loading stacks of freshly prepared meals into a Kitchen Coalition-branded refrigerator in the common room of Pathways on the Park, an adult living community. Universe is met by Peter, a resident of Pathways on the Park, who volunteers to distribute meals to his fellow residents. 

“One day curiosity got the best of me, and I saw what was happening,” says Peter. “I’m a foodie—I used to work in food marketing. I’d hand out little samples at the grocery store and try to get people to try things they wouldn’t normally try. I do that here too with some of the meals.” 

A delivery driver takes meals out the back of a van

Universe, one of The Sanneh Foundation’s drivers, brings a crate of freshly prepared meals into the lobby.

Kitchen Coalition, Second Harvest Heartland's prepared meals program, currently distributes about 25,000 meals each week and has 20 partners in the restaurant and catering business. Today, the residents of Pathways on the Park are receiving meals from Create Catering, ranging from Swedish meatballs with pasta and vegetables, to Korean chicken with veggies and rice. 

A steady stream of residents make their way down into the lobby where they are greeted by Peter and Rebecca Nelson, who assists The Sanneh Foundation in distributing meals and keeping track of residents’ preferences.  

“We’re here at lunchtime, and then a little bit later in the day as people return from work,” says Rebecca. “I have a spreadsheet that lets me know who has picked up what, and what requests they may have.” 

Cris, one of the senior residents, is grateful for the convenience the Kitchen Coalition meals provide. “I’m being treated for cancer right now. The two meals I get from Kitchen Coalition are perfect. You know, I do a little cooking, but it’s nice when I don’t have to. I usually do something simple like eggs in the morning, or cereal or soup. But these meals fill everything in really nicely.” 

Loretta, another resident of Pathways on the Park, appreciates the meals as she keeps a very busy schedule. “On Mondays and Tuesdays, I have to go into the office and I don’t get home until 5:15 p.m. So by the time I get home, my cat’s at the door like ‘hello!’. So I have to feed her first, and then basically I have to eat and go to sleep because I have to be back up at work at 7:00 a.m. the next day. Those meals come in so handy on those days.” 

A woman in a black sweatshirt holds Kitchen Coalition meals

Loretta is unable to do a lot of standing and cooking, and so Kitchen Coalition meals help her a lot.

Since its founding in the early days of the pandemic, Kitchen Coalition has provided nourishment to individuals and families with inconsistent access to a kitchen, people with challenges caused by physical mobility issues or illness, or those who are managing a crisis, challenge or time of transition. 

“You can’t see it, but I have a foot problem,” adds Loretta. “I can’t do a lot of standing, and walking to the grocery store is hard. So [Kitchen Coalition] meals really help me a lot. 

A man in a hat loads meals in a common area

Peter helps load Kitchen Coalition meals into Pathways on the Park’s common room freezer.

Recently, Kitchen Coalition reached a huge milestone—the prepared meals program has distributed 5 million meals in four years. The Kitchen Coalition program is a perfect match for individuals in senior housing like Peter, Cris, and Loretta who don’t always have the time or ability to cook for themselves.  

Peter, who has been going through radiation treatment, appreciates the time it saves him. “There was a time late last summer where I had so many battles on my plate, so I had to put cooking on the back burner, if you will. No pun intended. But I can add to the [meals] that are given to me. It doesn’t require a ton of work, but I still have control of what I’m doing which I think is awesome.” 

Second Harvest Heartland is proud to partner with The Sanneh Foundation who helps distribute Kitchen Coalition meals to our senior neighbors, and with all our partners who need a freshly prepared meal. 

“Every time I arrive [at Pathways on the Park], I put a smile on their faces,” says Universe. “It’s the best.”