How to Get Free Food in Minnesota during COVID
During this pandemic, many families are struggling financially. Many have lost their jobs, and many parents are staying home with their kids who are distance learning.
Many kids rely on free school meals, and being stuck at home limits access to them. That’s why school districts across the country are providing free food for all kids, at least through the end of June 2021. Families can pick up the food, or in many cases, have it dropped off.
But there are other ways to get free food right now too! Food shelves have made it possible for everyone in need to drive up to pick up food – no questions asked. Plus free community meals are provided at churches and other sites like before – but for pickup instead of dine-in.
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.
I wrote about why everyone should pick up the free food from your child’s school district here:
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.
Every Meal – Many participating community center and YMCA locations are giving away free bags of groceries to anyone who asks for them (while they last). They are providing them through January 2021 or while supplies last but check the Every Meal website for updates as this will be available again.
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. ANYONE can come and get a carful of food for $20. 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). They have several locations in the Twin Cities.
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.
Food shelves in Minnesota 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.
Also, check out smaller grocery stores near you that often have great prices.
There are several Facebook groups that I know of that can help you during these difficult times.
Minnesota Money-Saving Moms – This is my own group. I encourage members to share any tips for saving money and finding freebies in Minnesota.
Minnesota Resource Connection – People share resources for free food, kids items, and other necessities that are available throughout Minnesota.
Helping Hands MN – Members share everything from food to diapers to furniture.
What other resources do you know of?
For more resources during this challenging time, see my guide: