United Way of 1000 Lakes Invites Community to Participate in its First-Ever Culturally Specific Food Drive in April

More than 5 million people across Minnesota visited food shelves in 2022, according to Hunger Solutions Minnesota, which was a record high and nearly more than 2 million from the previous year. With high food costs, inflation and the ongoing economic impact of the pandemic, food insecurity remains a major challenge.  

Barriers to food security are compounded for families and individuals with specific cultural food needs. Food insecurity disproportionately affects diverse populations, which means those who are in need are less likely to find foods, spices, and sauces that are familiar and unique to their culture. The effects of these food injustices extend beyond households to a community’s educational, economic and health outcomes. United Way of 1000 Lakes is among communities across Minnesota partnering on the Flavors of Our Community initiatives to tackle inequities in food access. 

“Food plays a major role in identity, family, tradition, and culture,” says United Way Executive Director Kimberly Brink Smith. “Through our ‘Flavors of Our Community’ program, we are asking volunteers to donate food that reflects the diversity of our region.”  

The organization’s goal is to engage volunteers to assemble pantry packs, which contain staple ingredients that can be used in a variety of culturally significant meals. In collaboration with community partners, United Way developed food packs with ingredients that volunteers can purchase and assemble. Pantry packs contain essential items for Anishinaabe, Latinx, and Southeast Asian Minnesotans.  

Now through the end of April, caring community members can create and donate pantry packs. Donated packs can be delivered to a drop-off site in the community, the locations of which include Itasca County Family YMCA, Children’s Discovery Museum, Klockow Brewing Company, Rapids Brewing Co., all Woodland Bank locations, and United Way’s office. 

To participate, visit uwlakes.org/flavors and select a food pack, purchase the items, assemble the pack(s), and drop them off at a community drop-off location.