BEMIDJI, MN – The Minnesota Super Bowl Host Committee (MNSBHC) Legacy Fund today awarded Bemidji Community Food Shelf (BCFS) with a $30,000 grant to help the organization purchase a van to pick up food from the North Country Food Bank in Crookston, MN and from area stores. The van may also allow the food shelf to reach outlying communities in the future.
The grant is part of the Minnesota Super Bowl Legacy Grant Program, which is made possible each year by a $1 million contribution courtesy of the NFL Foundation and is complemented by the Super Bowl Host Committee. Through its 52 Weeks of Giving campaign, the MNSBHC has launched a year-long effort to make Super Bowl LII a statewide event by awarding 52 communities with grants that will help improve the health and wellness of young people in Minnesota.
BCFS provides nearly 3,000 families each year with emergency food services and nearly half of recipients are children. The BCFS van will help increase the frequency and amount of food the organization can collect and distribute. In addition to picking up food, the van will be used to transport gardening materials to various sites, such as its nearby farm and community gardens, and transport people to meetings and conferences.
BCFS hosted a celebration today at its farm to celebrate the grant during which children and members of the community planted vegetable seeds and watered seedlings.
“In addition to allowing us to continue picking up from our food bank, it is possible that in the future, this van could be a much-utilized mobile food shelf and will strengthen our relationship with youth and volunteers from northern Beltrami County,” said Jim Fretheim, Board President, Bemidji Community Food Shelf. “The grant also supports our farm program, which is a direct link for us to engage youth in the community in outdoor physical activity such as farming and gardening.”
The Boys and Girls Club, nearby elementary and high schools and universities, and nearly 30 families volunteer at BCFS gardens to learn about how to grow food and the nutritional benefits of fresh vegetables and fruits.
“Northern Beltrami County is considered a food desert with a significant number of residents earning less than 200 percent of the poverty level,” said Mary Mitchell, Executive Director, Bemidji Community Food Shelf. “With the loss of the Sentence to Serve Program, this new vehicle will allow us to continue picking up food from our food bank to continue to provide the people in our county with access to nutritious food.”
Expenses such as insurance and maintenance for the vehicle will be paid through individual donations. The board of directors, vice president and farm manager will be responsible for van service, cleaning and maintenance. They will also ensure that all drivers are screened and trained to safely operate the vehicle.
“The Bemidji Community Food Shelf is an important staple for providing a resource to this community for healthy food options, nutrition education and lessons on growing and preparing fresh fruits and vegetables,” said Dana Nelson, Vice President of Legacy and Community Partnerships for the MNSBHC Legacy Fund. “With its help, families and children in this county will see better access to healthy food. We are grateful to help make this a possibility as part of our 52 Weeks of Giving.”
The Minnesota Super Bowl Host Committee is a private, non-profit corporation formed to plan and execute Super Bowl LII. For more information visit www.mnsuperbowl.com and follow @mnsuperbowl2018 on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat.