By Jeff Mortensen
President & CEO
Thomas helps manage his chronic illnesses with fresh produce and other healthy options he finds at the 360 Communities Burnsville Food Shelf. He appreciates the variety of food and the shopping experience offered, and he finds engaging with 360 Communities staff and volunteers dignifying.
“Family and friends can start to pull back from you because you’re not healthy or you’re not doing so well financially … But when I come here, it’s like, ‘Oh, that’s right, I’m a human being.’”
Over the past several years, 360 Communities increased its healthy food choices and created a store-like shopping experience for people accessing food shelves. These changes were in direct response to needs identified through client surveys. Clients want healthy food options and choice. They want to feel human through an experience that surrounds them with friends and support. 360 Communities is intentional about listening to the clients accessing its services and then responding directly to their feedback. It has a successful history of evolving to improve service delivery in order to meet the ever-changing community needs.
360 Communities, through the power of local volunteers and community partnerships, transformed food shelves in Burnsville, Rosemount, Lakeville, and Apple Valley, into healthy food shopping models. These store-like models are laid out with produce, dairy, and meat displayed prominently to highlight the options available and help customers make the healthy food choice the easy choice. Two of our food shelves have even achieved “SuperShelf” status. SuperShelf is a Minnesota collaborative that works to “transform food shelves to provide welcoming and respectful environments to access healthy food.” The experiences gained through these successes have validated that a healthy food shopping model is a better, more customer-centered way to serve individuals and families facing hunger.
For more than a decade, the food shelf model in Farmington and its dedicated volunteers have been meeting the hunger needs of individuals and families. Farmington volunteers have brought exceptional energy and dedication to serving their community. They have a deep sense of ownership, and it shows. We thank them and will continue to rely on volunteers as source of community strength.
360 Communities is excited to be working with a local church partner to bring the healthy food shopping model to Farmington. It will require a transformation of the existing food shelf and will result in an increased ability to serve Farmington families with even stronger support. The food pantry in Farmington is temporarily closed, but people can continue to receive help through 360 Communities’ network of food shelves and through referrals by calling 952.985.5300. The improved Farmington Food Shelf is scheduled to open October 1st.
360 Communities’ long-term vision for Farmington is to not only have a healthy food shopping model, but to include a family resource center as well. The family resource center model brings more holistic services that go deeper with families improving their safety and stability.
Thomas, the food shelf customer from Burnsville, encapsulates the outcomes desired with the Farmington food shelf client-focused improvements: healthier food shelf customers who feel welcome and supported. This impacts not only their lives, but the health of the community as a whole.