As the Luther Group uses a large network to help connect cars and customers, the Emergency Foodshelf Network calls on a network of its own to feed hungry Minnesotans.
A partner for several years, EFN has been a major presence at Luther’s Drive to Serve events, and many stores feature the group’s food collection bins. Perhaps less well known is the group’s widespread reach, to 26 counties in Minnesota and western Wisconsin, through 200 hunger relief partners.
“It’s really gratifying work to know that what we’re doing is relieving the stress from so many families in our state,” said EFN Executive Director Lori Kratchmer. Helping alleviate people’s worries about putting food on the table for families and making a difference in people’s lives feels really good, she said.
The leader describes EFN as a food bank, which is more like a distributor or “middle man.” The group deals in large donations, even truckloads, and buys food on that scale. It has a team of drivers and a 56,000 square-foot warehouse that serves the nonprofit’s food partners. The total food impact? About 4.2 million meals a year.
With limited budgets, the network relies heavily on its more than 10,000 volunteers, who contribute more than 30,000 hours per year, about the same as 15 full-time employees. Groups from businesses to summer camps and youth also pitch in to help, she said.