Food is fun.
That basic statement drives what we do every week in the Eat section.
But if this pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that food is also nourishment. It’s survival.
We also were reminded that many of the people who prepare food and food-related products are community-minded, generous souls. In fact, at a time when they were hurting the most, many chefs and restaurateurs pivoted to feeding the community without being compensated.
Today, we thought it would be nice to shine a light on all these food-related beacons of hope in our community.
We have included restaurants where you can eat a meal knowing that part or all of the cost goes to someone in need, but also businesses that sell everything from soup to aprons that give part of their profits to help nourish bodies and souls.
This list is not in any way comprehensive but is meant as a way for interested readers to give back, deliciously.
Hope Breakfast Bar
When Brian Ingram left his corporate job as COO for New Bohemia Wurst & Bier Haus, he wanted to do something different. The deeply religious man and his wife, Sarah Ingram, purchased the former firehouse across from Children’s Hospital and decided not only to make a fun, happy place for families suffering all kinds of tragedy to get breakfast, but also to give three percent of their profits to help feed families in need.
And if you need further proof that Ingram is the kind of guy you really want as a neighbor and community member, when restaurants were shut down, the first thing he did was to start slinging meals out of the Hope kitchen and offering them as free takeout for anyone who needed them. No questions asked. During the second shutdown, when many hospitality workers were out of jobs and were no longer eligible for extra unemployment money from the federal government, he turned the tent he had rented to expand space in the cold months at his other restaurant, The Gnome, into a food pantry for those hurting workers. Ingram gave away hundreds of thousands of pounds of food (from many different sources), offering fire pits, hot soup, drinks and his giant smile to all who waited in line.
The Ingrams also donate three percent of profits from their other restaurants, The Gnome and Woodfired Cantina, which is temporarily shuttered.
To give directly, go to givehopemn.com. Otherwise, eat at either currently open restaurant:
Hope Breakfast Bar: 1 S. Leech St., St. Paul; 651-330-8996; hopebreakfast.com
The Gnome: 498 Selby Ave., St. Paul; thegnomepub.com
The Wandering Kitchen
This catering operation based out of Keg and Case West 7th Market offers fancy weekly meal plans prepared by chef Colin Murray. The menu varies each week, depending on what’s fresh and local, and the offerings always sound delicious.
Murray and his business partner Jamie Compton also have a philanthropic bent — you can donate toward giving family meals to Ronald McDonald House or lunches to front-line workers. In addition, if you buy a gift card right now, they’ll give 10 meals to people in need for every $100 you spend.
Learn more at wanderingkitchen.com
Lake City Sandwiches
This new ghost kitchen from the folks behind Nightingale is donating 50 cents from every sandwich to an organization geared toward social causes and supporting the community.
If you have an idea for a worthy cause, they take nominations.
Lake City Sandwiches at Nightingale: 2551 Lyndale Ave. S., Minneapolis; 612-224-9921; lakecitysandwiches.com
BA Craftmade Aprons
You’ve seen the aprons on many of the best chefs in the Twin Cities — they’re sturdy, stylish, and made for comfort. But you might not know the story behind BA Craftmade or how much owner Kate Meier does to help out the hospitality industry.
Project Black and Blue, started in 2019, is meant to address the physical and mental health of hospitality workers. Half the profits from the $80 black and blue aprons (there are also less expensive hats and T-shirts) goes into a fund that is distributed to chefs in need of mental or physical care. Hospitality workers nominate each other for the money.
Meier began making Craftmade aprons after her sons, who are chefs, complained about how uncomfortable traditional aprons are. Hers have straps that cross over in the back, which takes pressure off the wearer’s neck.
To learn more or order aprons, go to craftmadeaprons.com.
The food-centric nonprofit Appetite for Change runs this restaurant in Union Depot, which barely had a chance to get its feet under it before the pandemic hit.
Casual fare includes soups, salads, tacos and sandwiches, and when you’re eating there, you’re supporting the group’s urban farms, youth development program and policy change initiatives.
It’s a lunch-only takeout operation, Monday-Friday at the moment.
Station 81: 651-493-3204; appetiteforchangemn.org
Provision Community Restaurant
This pay-as-you-can community restaurant is meant to be a place to share a communal meal, even if you aren’t able to afford it. Those with more means give more, those with less, give less, or nothing at all. The menu changes daily, and when things are back to normal, they’ll be serving it family-style again.
For now, you can get a lunch to go if you need it, or even just want it. Pay what you can, Monday-Friday noon-1 p.m.
Provision Community Restaurant: 2940 Harriet Ave., Minneapolis; 612-208-0461; provisioncommunity.org
This nonprofit restaurant slings all manner of grilled cheese sandwiches, a few soups and sides. And though the sandwiches are delicious enough on their own, their mission might just make them extra tasty.
Formerly incarcerated people work here, through a 12-month fellowship program “anchored in mental health, wealth and entrepreneurship.”
They are offered weekly therapy and help with everything from personal finance to leadership training, and most importantly, a supportive community. A 12-month solid work record doesn’t hurt, either.
Go read any of the fellows’ bios on the website and try not to get weepy. I dare you.
Currently curbside and takeout lunches only.
All Square: 4047 Minnehaha Ave., Minneapolis; allsquarempls.com
When the owners of three fast-casual organic markets in Minneapolis were forced to close during the pandemic, they decided to pivot to soup production.
And though they lost a lot, they still wanted to give back. They retained the lease at the commercial kitchen where they produced food and decided to sell soup directly to consumers, and for every quart of delicious soup they deliver to your doorstep, the business donates a bowl of soup to local healthcare workers or community members facing food insecurity. To date, they’ve given away 10,000 bowls to hospitals, Second Harvest Heartland, Appetite for Change, Loaves and Fishes and many other local organizations.
You order online, and freshly made soup (which is frozen before delivery) shows up at your door. (They deliver to most of the Twin Cities metro.) Thaw, heat and eat. There’s everything from chicken noodle to Cajun gumbo to Thai lemongrass chicken. Check out the options and order at simpls.com.
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