Donating for Crowlers and Out-of-Work Workers

With everything going on, it’s hard to plan more than a couple of days out. As more and more events are forced to cancel, the noncalendar list continues to grow. Events are starting to reschedule, such as The Bloody Mary Festival – Twin Cities, which is now going to be held on Friday, October 16 and October 17. And we’re all waiting to hear when restaurants can start welcoming guests inside. Until then, here’s some of what’s going on.


Able Seedhouse + Brewery is hosting a food drive to benefit East Side Neighborhood Services. Customers who bring in a donated item, such as canned or dry goods and household items like the coveted toilet paper or diapers, can get $1 off their crowler at the special drive-up crowler window. Donations should not be opened and must be sealed. Cash donation also are accepted at The brewery is located at 1121 Quincy St NE in Minneapolis, and the crowler window is open Sunday through Friday from noon to 6 p.m. and Saturday, noon to 8 p.m. More than one item, from tuna to toothpaste, can be donated at a time and the $1 is valid.


Minnesota Central Kitchen

Here are the latest stats—as of Friday, April 17—from the Minnesota Central Kitchen (MCK) project from the new managing director, Emily Paul. The kitchen for Second Harvest Heartland is being run out of the Chowgirl's catering kitchen, and is employing chefs to make meals to feed the hungry. Donations of food are handled through MealConnect,the online portal created by Feeding America to handle donations from the food industry.

Weekly meals production stats are:

Meals produced this week: 40,500

Meals produced to date: 110,500

Lbs. of food in MealConnect: 21,277

New MealConnect donors this week: 10

No. of MealConnect donors since the start of MCK/Covid-19 relief efforts: 160

Lbs. of food in MealConnect since the start of MCK/Covid-19 relief efforts: 450,000+


The James Beard Foundation, which announced they would be providing $15,000 micro-grants through its Food and Beverage Industry Relief Fund back in April, received more than 4,000 applications within four hours of opening the application process, the foundation said. They are now looking to raise more money to help more restaurants. According to their research, four in five independent restaurant owners don’t think they can survive the COVID-19 crisis.


General Mills Foodservice has donated $100,000 to the Restaurant Employee Relief Fund, launched by the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation. Funds go to restaurant workers who have lost their jobs due to layoffs from COVID-19.

"This is a crisis that impacts so many of our customers, including the independent, local and beloved restaurants that play such a vital role in our communities," said Alyca Judge, senior marketing manager for General Mills Foodservice. "Through our donation, we hope to provide some relief to the displaced workers who are the heart and soul of the restaurant industry and show our support during these challenging times."

General Mills Foodservice, which partners with restaurants to provide back-of-house products, recipe inspiration and culinary support, recently rolled out a series of efforts to rally support for restaurants and drive business, including:

  • Tools and Tips for Takeout: Resources, from recipe ideas to social media tips, to help restaurants achieve success with takeout and delivery.
  • #TogetherWeBrunch: A social media campaign and toolkit with assets, a recipe guide and more to help restaurant operators leverage and promote a brunch takeout effort for their operation this spring.
  • #FeedingtheFrontines: A toolkit to help restaurants initiate a fundraising effort to feed frontline workers at hospitals, senior living centers and schools—fueled by donations from their customers and community.


Insights from Susan Eder of Cue the Accountant who has put together a business support group for restaurant owners to share ideas and strategies:

"Cash is king, and cash will always be king, so restaurants should strive for maintaining a level of cash that will help them survive a downturn like this. The clients we have that are doing OK right now are those who lived below their means, and reserved as much cash as possible. Easy to say now, but I have a few clients who are regretting their own investment in equipment and capital expenses last year.

However, I will say that economic downturns tend to give the buying public a chance to refocus their spending on local places. Staycations, treating themselves to a local night out, those items seem to be the alternative to not spending altogether.  It will take time for the fear to subside, so I think the projections we heard—that we’ll see sales at 50 percent to start, and sales not returning to their pre-COVID levels until next year—are prudent.  Owners will need to go back to working in their businesses again, on the front lines.

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