Seventeen local congregations from the Minneapolis and Anoka stakes of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints teamed up to donate over 100,000 meals to the Food Group in New Hope. The drive, which has been ongoing since early fall, is a partnership between the food distribution nonprofit and the churches.

Faye Hawes, a member of the Anoka stake, said the drive only accepted specific foods. The constraints ensured that the food would have a place in any kitchen, regardless of the household’s cultural identity. After consulting with the Food Group, the churches collected food in mid-December.

“We have been very aware of the challenge that families have had concerning food during the time of this COVID virus,” Hawes said. “We decided that we could make a difference by helping people to have the food they need to feed their families.”

Participating churches hail from all over the suburbs, including Crystal, Maple Grove, Medicine Lake, Bloomington, Eden Prairie, Minnetonka, and Plymouth.

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The Food Group Executive Director Sophia Lenarz-Coy and Paul Wilson, president of the Minnesota Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, stand by a sample meal box. The two supported volunteers on a meal-packing day early this month.

Hawes added that members of the church were enthusiastic about being a part of a large-scale project.

“It has been a wonderful experience for me to see people pull together with such a desire and joy to help,” she said.

Donated foods took a day and a half to be transported from each congregation to The Food Group warehouse. Several sorting and packing sessions were scheduled by the church to sort and pack the food.

In turn, The Food Group delivered the meal boxes to any of its 150 food shelf partners, depending on need.

The Food Group and Second Harvest Heartland also accepted 20 tons of food each last summer from the LDS church network.

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