White Bear Lake's new Community Market storefront

A New Community Market and Resource Hub in White Bear Lake

On May 30, 2024, the White Bear Area Food Shelf, a partner of Second Harvest Heartland, held a ribbon cutting for a new and innovative Community Market in White Bear Lake, MN. This market aims to care for the community by providing neighbors with fresh, healthy food, free of charge, as well as a community resource hub.

The grocery market will be open to the public, with no entry restrictions and no appointments required, during regular hours four days a week. Fresh produce, bakery, milk, eggs, frozen meat, specialty dry goodsincluding culturally-connected grocery choicesand household items will be available to all neighbors, if they are local to the area or not. There is also no limit to the number of visits per household, per week.  

Community Market ribbon cutting in front of crowd

The ribbon-cutting ceremony at the new Community Market in White Bear Lake, MN. CEO Allison O’Toole (right) and Senator Heather Gustafson (center) hold the ribbon while Perry Petersen (left), executive director of White Bear Area Food Shelf, cuts it to officially open the new market. 

In August 2022, Second Harvest offered the Collaboration and Innovation Grant that set the wheels in motion for the Community Market. Second Harvest Heartland is proud to have financially backed this initiative with a grant of $150,000. This unique funding opportunity allows us to find new ways of working with partners to meet the needs of neighbors.

Second Harvest Heartland also sources the food and manages the food rescue partnerships with the grocery stores that will stock the shelves at the Community Market. “It is because of [Second Harvest Heartland’s] work securing grants to offer key products like milk for free, managing federal food programs like The Emergency Food Assistance Program, and securing other resources that we are able to purchase $6 worth of food for every $1 given to the food shelf,” explains Dan Perry, Chair of the White Bear Area Food Shelf Board.

Photo of Produce at new Community Market.

Some of the foods available at the new Community Market.

This new facility will also provide community partners with a resource hub space to meet with neighbors about services available to them. Ramsey County does not have suburban offices, and it is a barrier for neighbors to travel to downtown St. Paul to access services. The Community Market will house two offices to be used by service providers on a rotating basis to meet with residents by appointment or as open house hours. The three partners who will pilot this community hub are Ramsey County, St. Andrews Community Resource Center, and White Bear Area Schools (Independent School District 624). The Community Market will continue to add more partners, such as for food assistance, legal services, mental health services, and housing.

“We know we cannot charity our way out of hunger. We must also find innovative ways to serve all our neighbors’ basic needs,” says Second Harvest Heartland CEO Allison O’Toole. “By having a space for community partners to meet with neighbors who need housing, financial or legal support, this market will start to holistically address everyone’s needs. In this way, White Bear Area Community Market will work with neighbors to change the economic fabric of our community.”

When food banks and food shelves work together, we not only increase the efficiency of every dollar in our emergency food system, but we also better connect with our neighbors. Second Harvest Heartland is proud to support this community market, which prioritizes shopper choice and provides a hub for neighbors to meet with other helping organizations.