Nokomis East Neighborhood Association

Helping residents fight hunger


Minnesotans saw a record 5.5 million visits to food shelves in 2022. This is an increase of 53% from the year before. Due to the pandemic, inflation, and supply chain shortages, food has become increasingly expensive and people are relying more and more on food shelves for extra help.
Nokomis East Food Distribution is a collaborative effort between Crosstown Covenant Church, Good-in-the-Hood, Nokomis East Neighborhood Association, and Trinity Lutheran of Minnehaha Falls. “I’ve been a pastor for 35 years, and to have a four-way partnership like this is such a miracle. It is a credit to all involved that out of care for our neighbors, we have a common aspiration,” Crosstown Covenant Pastor John Jacobi explained. Pastor Jacobi also mentioned that Good-in-the-Hood has 36 pop-up programs in the Twin Cities, and has been a great resource for getting food to people who are willing to open their doors and serve their communities. Even though the pandemic saw an increase in food shelves like Nokomis East Food Distribution, there is still a need for more food assistance. People will line up hours before many of the food shelves in the area open to ensure they can get food before it runs out.
Kathy Anderson, a long-term volunteer at Nokomis East Food Distribution, used this to explain why she likes volunteering, “I’m so touched and honored to get to know the people as they come in early and wait on chairs for their chance to go in, to personally have conversations and see pictures of grandchildren. One particular woman from Afghanistan, [who] came to the U.S. 22 years ago, brings food while she herself is waiting for food. One time she brought coffee bread to share with me." Beatel Iliff, another volunteer, added, “All of the regulars there know us. There’s a joy [in] that. It’s a really beautiful atmosphere”.
When discussing the food shelf, we talked about how it is set up. Instead of having pre-made boxes, people are able to come into a large open area in the church with all of the items on display and choose what they would like to take home, “which increases their dignity," Kathy added – keeping in mind that everyone deserves to have access to healthy and culturally appropriate food. “We want people to have food, but we are also bringing a human touch, which has been lost during COVID,” Pastor John said when discussing their people-first approach.
As coordinators of a food shelf, they work with various volunteers and can never be sure of what surplus food they may get in the week. Most of the time, it is a win-win interaction, where donated food can be immediately given away to those who need it. Other times, it can be a logistical puzzle for the organizers to figure out. For example, one time, Nokomis East Food Shelf received 60 pounds of dill. They had to immediately find people who needed it before it went bad.
“COVID has been hard on every organization. It has been brutal on churches across North America, between masking, political polarization, racial injustice. This has been such a gift because for the food distribution, we have an abundance of volunteers. People fight to sign up. This is how I know it’s good and there’s joy; there’s an abundance of people who want to serve,” said Pastor John.
The food distribution is open on the second and fourth Wednesdays of the month from 2-4 p.m. Volunteers are invited to sign up at the following:
Nokomis East Food Distribution is also in constant need of diapers and small packages of laundry detergent, as people tend to walk to both the food shelf and the laundromat. If you would like to donate, please bring items to the Crosstown Covenant Church (5540 30th Avenue South, Mpls) Monday - Saturday between the hours of 9 a.m. and 4 p.m.
• All statistics taken from:
Are you a business, non-profit, or faith group? Please email to discuss how you can sponsor this program.


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