Free Meals for Kids and Families in Minnesota during COVID-19
During this time of social distancing, kids are now at home for school. But many kids rely on free school meals, and being stuck at home limits access to them.
Plus, with so many families now affected by businesses having to close, even temporarily, and feeding their families is harder than ever.
Our school district informed all families that free food is being provided to ALL students. We picked up food this week and the woman handing it out told us that hardly any people were coming to pick it up, and if it wasn’t picked up, it was thrown away each day. So I want to encourage other families to pick up the food if you need it!
I also heard of another school district telling families that if the food isn’t picked up, then the school loses funding and can’t provide as much going forward. So if you need food for your family – it’s out there! Please pick it up!
Note that kids 18 and under can show up (or their parents can show up) without having signed up, and they don’t need to provide their information. And if your family has no way of picking up the food, contact your school district as many are offering bus stop food drop offs and other ways of getting food to kids.
If you are in need, there are many ways you can find free meals for your kids and family.
Free Meals for Kids
Hunger Solutions has the best resource for finding free kids meals in Minnesota. They have an interactive map showing both schools and restaurants offering free meals. (Meals are available to all kids.)
Local school district websites – Check your local school district! Your kids’ school should have contacted all students to provide information about how kids can receive food at this time.
Free Meals for Everyone
Hunger Solutions – has an interactive map and list to find free community meals, food shelves and other help getting food. Many of these including community meals which are open to all, no questions asked.
CSR Minneapolis – this website has a complete list of free community meals for the Minneapolis and western metro Twin Cities. You can download the list as a spreadsheet or a PDF, or search their calendar or interactive map.
Loaves and Fishes – A free meal program that serves hot meals throughout seven Minnesota counties. No questions asked – and now they are offering drive-through meals. Just drive up and receive a hot, nutritious meal at no cost to you. Families, retirees, and many others use this resource. On their website you can search for meals by location and by day.
YMCA – Many participating YMCA locations are giving away free bags of groceries to anyone who asks for them (while they last).
Local Food Events
Urban Ventures Hot Meals – Urban Ventures in Minneapolis is offering free hot meals every Tuesday, Thursday and Friday from 11:00am – 1:00pm for the foreseeable future.
Fare Well Food Truck Hot Meals – Some local chefs from local restaurants are serving hot lunches to St. Paul Public Schools families from March 31 – April 3.
- Jackson Elementary School on Tuesday, March 31
- Central High School on Wednesday, April 1
- American Indian Magnet School on Thursday, April 2
- Chelsea Heights Elementary School on Friday, April 3
Special Easter Food Distribution – On Thursday, April 9th from 4:00 – 7:30pm, Friendship Church in Prior Lake will offer free food to families. Friendship Church, 17741 Fairlawn Ave, Prior Lake, MN. This is a special free food distribution, intended for low income families or those going through a time of crisis. Due to the current situation, this distribution will now be held as a drive-thru event.
Ruby’s Pantry – Though not free, these are a low-cost way to get a large amount of groceries. It’s $20 per load and it’s drive-through for now. There are locations in Minnesota and Wisconsin. Read about my recent experience getting food at Ruby’s Pantry of Bloomington!
Mike’s Discount Foods – Mike’s Discount Foods is one of my favorite places to get food dirt cheap. They have plenty of healthful food – produce, meat, dairy, as well as many prepackaged goods and household supplies. Their foods are discounted because they are often close to (and sometimes past) expiration, so check each item before you purchase it. I’ve purchased items close to expiration and they have been perfectly good (I avoid expired items though – I have had to toss some of those).
ALDI – Aldi is one of my favorite places to shop because it’s cheaper than most other grocery stores. Drawbacks include limited choices, you need to deposit a quarter to use a shopping cart (which you get back when you return it) and you have to bring your own bags (or buy them). But the savings are worth it. Note: coupons are not accepted.
These are just a few of many food shelves in Minnesota- basically they have switched to drive-up models at this time due to COVID-19. Need is great so if you can donate food it is greatly appreciated.
PRISM – Drive up and get food after answering a few questions about your eligibility. Located in Golden Valley.
Salvation Army – There are several locations in the Twin Cities where families can drive up and get food if they qualify. You drive up and answer a few questions to determine eligibility, but everyone is directed to resources. Contact sites directly.
Also, check out smaller grocery stores near you that often have great prices.
What other resources do you know of?
For more resources during this challenging time, see my guide:
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