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'Minnesota's Central Kitchen' forms to provide meals for those in need

Second Harvest Heartland and Loaves & Fishes have teamed up with some of Minnesota's biggest names in the food service industry to help feed those in need.

MINNEAPOLIS, Minnesota — By Thursday at noon, five vans full of food had already visited Chowgirls Killer Catering in northeast Minneapolis. 

The catering company has teamed up with Second Harvest Heartland, Loaves & Fishes, The Bachelor Farmer and Restaurant Alma to form "Minnesota's Central Kitchen." 

"We are working in a strategic partnership with Second Harvest Heartland and Loaves & Fishes to create a pilot kitchen that can be replicated in the community with standardized operating procedures for COVID-19 health and food safety so that we can take food that's being donated by all the closed bars and restaurants right now and help those Loaves & Fishes clients," said Maari Cedar James, president of Chowgirls Killer Catering. 

According to Cedar James, Loaves & Fishes is currently using their transportation to pick food up from restaurants that are temporarily closed due to COVID-19. 

Right now, they expect to make 200-500 to-go meals per day before ramping up to 2,000.

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"The hope is that potentially we could serve 10,000 meals a day with this program once we get up and running but we want to do it right," Cedar James said. "Especially during the social distancing where we don't want people eating in meal halls together. So as much packaging and preparing the foods for take-home through Loaves & Fishes is happening, as possible, too." 

These emergency meals will help feed people in the community, including those in the food service industry. 

"We have had to go through layoffs already ourselves and we're working with those staff that were laid off to actually bring them back in to do this work as much as possible," Cedar James said. "And to be able to help the families that are immediately affected, especially low-wage workers who don't have sick safe time who may be laid off."

There are several ways you can help. 

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Restaurants interested in donating food can go to https://mealconnect.org/. They are in need of dried spices. 

Minnesota's Central Kitchen is also in need of volunteers, including skilled chefs. To volunteer, email volunteer@chowgirls.net. 

To donate non-food items, email donation@chowgirls.net. 

They need: 

•    dish chemicals
•    cleaning supplies
•    thermometers for humans
•    gloves
•    duct tape
•    hotel pans
•    foil pans
•    compostable boxes
•    aprons
•    towels
•    paper towel
•    toilet paper
•    24" plastic wrap 

More information for those in need of help, can be found on the Loaves and Fishes website

KARE 11’s coverage of the coronavirus is rooted in Facts, not Fear. Visit kare11.com/coronavirus for comprehensive coverage, find out what you need to know about the Midwest specifically, learn more about the symptoms, and keep tabs on the cases around the world here. Have a question? Text it to us at 763-797-7215. And get the latest coronavirus updates sent right to your inbox every morning. Subscribe to the KARE 11 Sunrise newsletter here. Help local families in need: www.kare11.com/give11

The state of Minnesota has set up a hotline for general questions about coronavirus at 651-201-3920 or 1-800-657-3903, available 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

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