Minneapolis’ Northside is a neighborhood that has incredible heart, according to Meghan Healy, communications director for local nonprofit Appetite For Change. “I think it’s a neighborhood that some people might look down on, but it has a richness and culture unlike any other neighborhood in the Twin Cities. There are a lot of people that really are about the Northside.”
Three of those people are Tasha Powell, Michelle Horovitz, and Princess Haley, who founded Appetite For Change (AFC) in 2012 to build health, wealth, and social change in the Northside, a lower-income neighborhood in which 75% of the population identifies as Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC).
“They saw that due to a lot of inequality that existed then and still exists now, people needed better access to fruits and vegetables and food on the Northside,” said Healy. “Instead of thinking they had all the answers, they asked the community what they needed.”
That engagement led to the development of AFC’s flagship program, Community Cooks. Healy explained that the weekly workshops bring people together for cooking, eating and conversation, with different groups for families, youth and new and expecting mothers.
Due to COVID-19, Community Cooks has shifted to a weekly meal box program that includes culturally relevant recipes and enough ingredients to prepare two nourishing meals for a family of six. Thanks to partnerships with other local organizations, the boxes are distributed to 400 households weekly.
“We know through research that participants in Community Cooks events and meal boxes are open and more willing to try new and different foods, and new vegetables,” said Healy.
Another AFC program is Breaking Bread Catering & Cafe, which offers fresh, made-from-scratch food that celebrates the culinary legacy of Black Americans, ranging from classic soul food dishes to Creole and West African flavors.
The organization also runs the West Broadway Farmers Market, which provides an access point for fresh fruit and vegetables. “It’s a really fun environment — a place where the community can come together. They can sample different vendors, they can buy fresh food, there’s always music,” said Healy.
“It’s also a place where local entrepreneurs who might have a difficult time getting into other farmers markets, or who may not feel comfortable in other farmers markets, can get feedback and get confidence.”
The market includes a booth where local youth sell produce grown at AFC’s urban garden plots. Healy notes that supporting youth and giving them something positive to focus on is an important aspect of AFC’s mission and watching youth develop confidence over the season is especially rewarding.
For people who want to get involved, there are many ways to support AFC’s work. In-person volunteer opportunities are available at the organization’s urban gardens, and people can sign up for the newsletter for periodic updates. There’s also a line of merchandise, and financial contributions are always appreciated.
“As we head into the last part of the year, if people are thinking about where they’re giving, please consider AFC,” said Healy. “We have big plans for change and need all the support we can get.”
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