As life returns to normal again after more than a year of coping with the challenges of the COVID-19 virus, there are still many families reeling from the economic fallout left in the pandemic’s wake. Food shelves have seen a sharp increase in demand as one in nine Minnesotans, and one in six children, face hunger and food insecurity.

Yet in the midst of this ongoing crisis, hope abounds. Minnesota is full of generous and compassionate companies that care about these families. One of these amazing companies is Bridgewater Bank. Seeking to address the growing hunger crisis in their own backyard, they approached MATTER with an idea to help the community. In bringing their idea to life, MATTER helped Bridgewater Bank in supporting our community by providing 500 healthy MATTERbox meals and snacks to children and families throughout Minnesota.

Bridgewater Bank employees holding MATTERbox snack packs.

Bridgewater Bank Senior Account Executive, Charlene Roufs, explained why her company chose to partner with MATTER. “When Bridgewater Bank met with MATTER in February, we quickly realized what a great organization MATTER is because of the important work they do here in the Twin Cities. We wanted to be part of the effort to provide meal kits for individuals and families going through a difficult time in our local communities. By partnering with MATTER, we knew we could increase the amount of healthy meals available to those in need.”

The responsibility for packing the 500 MATTERbox meals was given to an eager group of volunteers from Transition Plus. A joint program of the Hopkins, St. Louis Park and Minnetonka schools, Transition Plus helps prepare young adults with disabilities to live independently, gain meaningful employment, and become active members of the community. Packing the food boxes allowed the students to not only make a valuable contribution to the community but gave them the opportunity to learn essential job skills along the way. (You can read more about this fantastic group of volunteers here.)

Among the community organizations receiving the meals was The Link. Founded in 1991, the organization works with youth and young families to overcome the impacts of poverty and social injustice. Serving over 2,000 youth and young families in seven counties throughout the Twin Cities metro area, The Link knows first-hand how serious the hunger crisis is in Minnesota.

Students from Transition Plus packing some of the 500 MATTERbox meals donated by Bridgewater Bank for individuals and families in our community.

Jelena Song, Corporate Engagement Officer with The Link, shared how much the donation from Bridgewater Bank was needed and appreciated.

“Most of the youth and young families in our community live in poverty and meeting their basic needs on their own is a daily struggle, so food is one of the most essential and urgent needs. The meal boxes sponsored by Bridgewater Bank were distributed to the youth in our permanent housing. One of the residents said they love how the food is packaged– the box with the recipes and the note included make it feel special, and the recipe is both easy to follow and makes a tasty meal. Thank you MATTER and Bridgewater Bank!”

For Bridgewater Bank, providing these hundreds of healthy meals and supporting our community was about more than meeting an urgent physical need. They saw this as an opportunity to let families and individuals know they’re not alone in their struggles and to remind them that they matter – a message that resonates strongly with us here at MATTER!

Ms. Roufs shared Bridgewater Bank’s vision for its impact in the community. “Our hope is that every young person and family that receives a meal kit or snack pack will feel the community’s supporting arms around them. We hope that it will give them and their family the nourishment they need for another day at work and school. We want each recipient to know they are not alone despite the adversities they face.”

You too can partner with MATTER to help combat hunger and food insecurity by supporting our community through Feeding Minnesota, our joint campaign with 5 Eyewitness News. As part of this campaign, MATTER is working with our community partners to provide 50,000 healthy meals to children and families this summer. Join us! Together let’s remind people they matter by helping to meet one of their most basic needs. Learn more here.