Minnesota-based free, prepared meal program expands

Published: Jan. 18, 2023 at 7:08 PM CST
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ROCHESTER, Minn. (KTTC) – A Minnesota-based program that aims to give well-balanced home-cooked meals to families in need is expanding and changing its name.

The Minnesota Central Kitchen, a hunger-relief program started by Twin Cities-based food bank Second Harvest Heartland is changing its name to Kitchen Coalition. It partners with Channel One Regional Food Bank in Rochester.

Local restaurants make ready-to-eat meals that families in need can take home.

In the Twin Cities, the program serves 25,000 meals a week.

In Rochester, around 4,800 meals are served each month.

Powers Ventures’ Canadian Honker Restaurant and Taqueria El Sueno in Rochester and Madina Cuisine and Market in Faribault are partnering with Channel One to make the meals.

The meals are then distributed to places like The Landing Day Center and the Jeremiah Project.

“It’s been great,” Jessica Sund with Channel One said. “We’ve had a few distribution partners come and go, but we’re so grateful to have these restaurants ensure employment for their staff and make these wonderful meals.”

Channel One also works with eight distribution partners – Pamoja Women, The Jeremiah Program, Open Table Food Ministry, Next Chapter Ministries, and the Gage East Community in Rochester; Somali Community Resettlement Services in Faribault; and Trinity Lutheran Church in Owatonna.

“One of my favorite examples of how this program comes to life is in a daycare center in the cities,” Kitchen Coalition Director Robin Manthe said. “The daycare is for recently unhoused families. There’s a refrigerator near the entrance. The family picks up their child and grabs a dinner, take it home.”

According to Second Harvest, more than 75 nonprofit distribution partners distribute the meals each week and many of them are prepared within three miles of where they are eaten.

Kitchen Coalition has also now expanded into Fargo, North Dakota.

“We hope we can continue to grow,” Manthe said.

For more information on the Kitchen Coalition, click here.