Local Groups use Creative ways to Fight Hunger

Updated: 08/23/2014 11:41 AM KSTP.com By: Jennifer Ann Wilson

Inside Shobi's Table food truck where community members make calzones to serve their hungry neighbors for free.
Inside Shobi's Table food truck where community members make calzones to serve their hungry neighbors for free.
Photo: Photo: KSTP-TV

The number of people receiving food assistance from the state has doubled since 2006. While demand is increasing, local food pantries say donations just aren't keeping up.

5 EYEWITNESS NEWS found three local groups that are demonstrating that creativity may just be the most important weapon in the fight against hunger.

On Payne Avenue in Saint Paul, the food truck "Shobi's Table" is different from the rest.  It serves calzones made from scratch by community members, who then serve their hungry neighbors free of charge.

"And then we eat the food together, and then we do our prayers together," Pastor Margaret Kelly said.

She started this new approach to feeding the hungry a couple of months ago.

"A lot of times folks are recipients of charity, but they don't have any say, any power, any buy in to the relationship, so this is where we buy into the relationship, we do together," Kelly said. "We bring the community, we bring the food, we bring the meaningful work to people.  So we bypass the need for transportation, and we give people an opportunity to participate."

Across town at Signal Garage, they're hoping to stop hunger one set of brakes at a time.  When you bring in a full bag of food or school supplies, they'll inspect your brakes, replace and install brake pads for free.  In just a few weeks this brake special has already filled the lobby with food, more than once.

It's 5'oclock, at the Brave New Workshop in Minneapolis, and the Flannigan's beer is flowing! But this is not a normal happy hour; this is “Happy Hour Squared.”

"What you're seeing tonight is really kind of an idea that's just starting," said John Sweeney, the owner of Brave New Workshop. "We ask people to come, have a beer, have a laugh but also make sandwiches."

Two hours and 2,000 sandwiches later, they are given to retired school teacher Alan Law.

"I'm on the streets every night, all night," he said. "Last year, I passed out 720,000 sandwiches."

Law founded Minneapolis Recreation Development, Inc. to provide resources to the homeless, but he needs groups and events like “Happy Hour Squared” to give him the resources to give away.

One local pantry says when there is a constant growing need, donor fatigue sets in and creative ideas like these are needed to re-energize and reconnect with donors.