Some school districts working with food nonprofits
Stepping Stone homeless shelter in Anoka relies heavily on school dsitrict food donations.
"I would say about 50% of our food comes from the schools," said Julie Jeppson, executive director of Stepping Stone.
But with students not in buildings, they've seen a decline.
"To supplement those school donations (or restaurants donations) we now have to purchase, so that is a really big ticket item," she explains.
School districts around the state are providing free meals to any student during distance learning.
And in some districts, families are gobbling up those meals.
In St. Paul, since mid-March, more than 1.3 million meals have been served.
"We have 50 buses that are running twice a day and about 150 staff members that are delivering right to family doors," said St. Paul Public Schools Nutrition Services Director Stacy Koppen.
Koppen said about a dozen gallons of milk had to be discarded but, generally, if food isn't used by students and families it's donated.
"We are really trying to ensure that no food goes to waste and there are some really good resources out there that we have been able to tap into," she said.
To date, about 10,000 meals have been donated to nonprofits like Loaves and Fishes.
"We are really providing something that families need and are appreciating," Koppen added.
Other districts like Osseo Maple Grove said it does "not have leftover food" and that the number of meals made and distributed are "fairly consistent from day to day."
South Washington County School District said as a public entitiy it "cannot make private donations." The district added that it "is utilizing all its food."
Stepping Stone has now launched a new initiative.
"We immediately put up a campaign for food donations, either where the community could donate food or donate dollars for us to purchase food," Jeppson said.
They're hopeful the community will help the 66 residents relying on them during this health pandemic.