Minnesota Central Kitchen, the restaurant-and-nonprofit partnership that employs restaurant workers to make hot meals for those in need, has added another kitchen to its roster.
Sean Sherman’s the Sioux Chef will be cooking 400 meals a day from its kitchen in the Midtown Global Market.
“Over these past few crazy months in Minneapolis, especially the past few weeks, we really wanted to mobilize and help make a difference with what we do,” Sherman said in a video conference. “Our focus has always been bringing awareness to indigenous foods and creating access to it. But now is the time, even more importantly, to have this access in our communities.”
Second Harvest Heartland, the region food shelf supplier, leads the initiative, with contributions from four restaurant partners. The Sioux Chef joins Chowgirls Catering, Surly Brewing Co., and the Wedge Table.
Production kitchens at UnitedHealth Group and other partners are also contributing to the nearly 450,000 hot meals that have been distributed since mid-March. Loaves & Fishes, Appetite for Change, the Sanneh Foundation and Catholic Charities in St. Cloud get the meals to the people who need them.
Minnesota Central Kitchen launched as restaurants were closing dining rooms to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. The collaboration was meant to employ chefs, rescue food before it becomes waste and feed the hungry.
Second Harvest Heartland CEO Allison O’Toole says that need is more pressing now than ever.
“We are seeing and hearing reports of double and triple need right now in the early summer months,” and she expects that need to grow in mid-to-late summer, she said in the video conference. The need for fresh food was compounded by the unrest in south Minneapolis following the George Floyd’s death in police custody.
“The pandemic has made clear to many of us that our collective health and well-being are interconnected,” she said. “The choices we make today can honor that new, hard earned understanding that brings us closer together.”
Meanwhile, Sherman has had to put his own restaurant plans on hold. He was to open his first this spring, but “right before COVID hit, we had to put the brakes on it.”
But the pandemic hasn’t stopped him from holding to his mission to train and employ indigenous cooks that make healthy indigenous meals in his Indigenous Food Lab.
“We’re still moving forward with getting food out where it needs to,” he said.