SAINT PAUL, Minn. — With COVID-19 causing businesses to shutdown and forcing furloughs, Carl Johnson had an epiphany.
"We know there are families that need hot meals right now. And we need to get to them as fast as possible," Johnson explained.
His business, Storehouse Grocers already provides affordable staples to the food insecure and homeless in the vicinity of Dayton's Bluff, but Johnson wanted to do something bigger.
"We wanted to figure out some hot and carry go meals for our neighborhood," Johnson said.
Each Tuesday and Thursday, Storehouse Grocers and an outreach team from Faith City Church serve hot meals to anyone who needs them for free.
"We tell people there are no strings attached. You don't have to purchase anything to get these meals. We ask them how many people are in their household, so we don't have any restrictions on how many meals that they take," Johnson explained.
With the help of TST Creative Catering, Storehouse Grocers is serving everything from hot dogs and burritos to Chicken Fried Steak.
These simple meals are making a major difference to the people of St. Paul, including Johnson.
"What's changed me is understanding a deepness about hunger," Johnson recalled.
In fact, someone on his outreach team interrupted a domestic violence situation while delivering a hot meal. Johnson recalled how access to that meal diffused the altercation.
"We may take a hot meal for granted sometimes and how we can actually change somebody's life in the midst of a situation... Every meal means something to somebody, and it means something to a family," Johnson explained.
Storehouse Grocers is able to serve thousands of people, including those at youth homeless camps, thanks to several partnerships and donations.
Johnson says this initiative will continue throughout the summer -- and his next dream is to open a food truck to serve free meals.
To learn how you can help the cause, visit the Faith City Church's website.