Parents and faculty originally put out a call for 80 bags of food on social media and were overwhelmed when they received about 25,000 bags of groceries on Sunday.
A food drive at a middle school in Minneapolis received tremendous response from the community after grocery stores in the area were burned down during protests following George Floyd's death. Parents and faculty originally put out a call for 80 bags of food on social media and were overwhelmed when about 25,000 bags of groceries—enough to fill up six trucks—covered the Sanford Middle School grounds on Sunday morning. "Donations covered every inch of ground of our parking lot, the grass, everywhere," Principal Amy Nelson told CNN. "We had to also use a neighboring park because we didn't have enough space here at the school to stack it up."
Know the story of the loaves and fishes?— John Bonnes (@TwinsGeek) May 31, 2020
Minneapolis’ Sanford Middle School asked for 85 bags of groceries to feed students. There are at least several thousand. And traffic is stacked in every direction for blocks. (The extra will go to food shelves.) pic.twitter.com/oxh6o1QcZo
According to WCCO, Principal Nelson turned the school parking lot into a collection site at 10 a.m. on Sunday with the aim of helping the families of students who are food insecure. Hundreds of businesses—including grocery stores—in Minneapolis and St. Paul were damaged in the riots protesting the death of George Floyd at the hands of a police officer. The food drive was set up to help families since they faced the prospect of traveling far to source groceries following the closure of these establishments. However, the organizers had not expected to surpass their goal so soon or at such a huge scale.
Any Minnesota family that needs food in this crisis come to Sanford Middle School. Food pick up starts at noon. pic.twitter.com/Kxjy6sUbli— Kathleen Miller Liu (@KMillerLiu) May 31, 2020
"The food locations and the pharmacies near the third precinct were damaged, creating a food desert for some of the families in our student body," Nelson said. "There are no places within walking distance for them to go and buy food." Speaking of surpassing their initial goal, she said, "We still don't know how much we received. It was so much more than we needed and it just kept going up. The line of cars bringing donations went for blocks and blocks in every direction from the school. And they just kept coming."
Overwhelmed doesn’t even begin to describe the feeling. This is the turnout for a call for 80 bags of food for families who live near the 3rd Police Precinct who lost their convenient stores in the riots this week in South Minneapolis.— Marielle Mohs (@MarielleMohs) May 31, 2020
All donations, all volunteers. #wcco pic.twitter.com/1PzGXk1OQS
"Looking around I feel like we have enough food kits to possibly feed every kid in Minneapolis and more," said Jaberi Browne, a special education teacher at the school. Expressing hope that this sign of overwhelming support is the first step towards recovery for the community, Browne added, "As an educator, knowing that our kids will be fed because of the stores being shut down, this heals my heart a lot." Nelson revealed that the social media appeal for groceries was shared well beyond the school's families and that they'd even received donations from out of state.
If you are in need of food or supplies because your grocery store is closed or was burned down. Come pick up what you need at Sanford Middle School - 3524 42nd Ave S.— Marielle Mohs (@MarielleMohs) May 31, 2020
No one is turned away. All are welcome, including food pantries that need to be replenished. #wcco pic.twitter.com/f5tJPxxcqk
Although the response they received was far beyond what they'd imagined, they soon realized that the same was the case for those in need. Hundreds of families came seeking groceries and were grateful to have access to food for their children. "The need was much greater than we anticipated, and we opened it up to anyone who needed help," Nelson said. "Families were so grateful to get the supplies they needed. Tears of joy and gratitude."
IF YOU WANT TO GIVE - Sanford Middle School is done accepting donations at this point. They ask that if you want to give, bring food/supplies to:— Marielle Mohs (@MarielleMohs) May 31, 2020
-Hiawatha Collegiate High School
-Sanctuary Covenant Church
-US Bank (Broadway and Emerson)#wcco pic.twitter.com/At0w2yHHzY
Sanford Middle School partnered with The Sheridan Story—a nonprofit devoted to feeding children in the Twin Cities—to organize and deliver all of the donations to families. A number of parents and student volunteers joined The Sheridan Story staff to help coordinate all the food donations and deliver food to those who need it. "Honestly, I'm really emotional right now. I'm so thankful our neighbors are coming together, it's the most beautiful thing I've ever seen," said a volunteer named Lauren. Volunteers were still sorting tons of groceries when the food drive ended Sunday night due to the curfew and the remaining food went to the Sheridan Story to distribute in the community.
Quinton Lewis, who lost his grocery store to a fire, praised the food drive. "We're trying to get anything we can get right now," he said. "It does make the situation better to make me feel like people really do have a heart, people really do care."