When the Matter team designed the MatterBox, we set out to do something about the fact that only 5% of the 100 million missing meals in Minnesota are coming from a traditional food shelf. Matter could see so many fantastic nonprofits and agencies working on the front lines of hunger and homelessness, groups who already interact daily with those facing food insecurity, but who don’t have the capacity to host a food program. We wanted to empower these organizations to better do their important work by providing them with a shelf-stable food box to provide immediate access to healthy food to their clients.

This versatile tool has been used in many ways by the different organizations with whom Matter partners. One notable example is the Hennepin County Sheriff’s Department, who equips each of their deputies with some MatterBoxes in the trucks of their squad cars to give to citizens in a variety of circumstances.

“It made me feel a little more secure, that there are people with authority who come and help us out. It’s really inspiring to see that happening.”

-A formerly homeless man in Minneapolis, on receiving food form a Sheriff’s Deputy

From family home evictions to veterans experiencing homelessness, the Sheriff’s Deputies come into contact with a variety of individuals every day who not only need some healthy food to eat, but to whom a little compassion and care can mean the world. The MatterBox is a simple tool which helps to not only feed people, but also bolster police-community relations.

On a recent day, Matter team members were privileged to meet some of the recipients of MatterBoxes, including “Legs”, a soft-spoken, gentle man who lost his legs and arm in an accident just before his 16th birthday. He has spent most of his adult life living on the streets, and currently he and his girlfriend are living in a tent near a highway ramp in the heart of Minneapolis. Though they have each other for support, they both felt that receiving food gives them hope and humbles them as they work together to get their lives back on track. “You see that there is love in the world,” Leg’s girlfriend says about receiving kindness from strangers, tears in her eyes.

Hennpein County Sheriff Rich Stanek says that the MatterBox is a great addition to the services which the Sheriff’s Deputies currently provide. Sheriff Stanek emphasized that his deputies meet some of the most vulnerable citizens of Hennepin County and the goals of this department is to “treat the public with compassion and respect” and help them find “food, and shelter, even a little love.” The MatterBox is an easy way to provide healthy food, a well as kindness through an unexpected source.

Hennepin County Sheriff Rich Stanek says that the MatterBoxes are used by his deputies to alleviate food insecurity on the front lines of hunger, and built better community/police relations.

“The way that we treat the public is with compassion and respect,” Stanek said.

Another man who received a MatterBox, has been off the streets and living in an apartment for 8 months, a time in which he has remained sober and is working on receiving his degree in design. He is still at a vulnerable place in his life, however and is grateful for receiving a MatterBox. He say “Although I’ve made it off the street and have an apartment, my refrigerator is empty.” He relies on the kindness of others to help him with short term alleviation of basic needs while he is working hard to improve his situation long term.

Matter is committed to finding nontraditional ways to filling the missing meal gap in Minnesota, by empowering other organizations and individuals to expand access to health and food. We invite you to think about how you can use a tool like the MatterBox to fill the missing meal gap in our community, and get healthy food into the hands of those who need it most!