In response to the growing needs in our communities for those impacted by the pandemic, The Rotary Foundation recently added COVID-19 projects to the eligible activities for our Disaster Relief Grants. As people of action, Rotarians in District 5950 saw an opportunity to respond quickly and effectively to local needs.
The five clubs were selected from submissions sent to local Rotary club presidents and include charity organizations that the clubs partner with to distribute aid. The recipients, which serve as food shelves and provide other financial support, were selected based on their support from local clubs and their locations within District 5950. The District is pleased to be able to distribute this Disaster Relief Grant awarded by The Rotary Foundation to organizations that do important work dealing with the implications of COVID-19.
Catholic Charities (of the Diocese of St. Cloud)
Rotary’s partnership with Catholic Charities, which has existed for many years, includes volunteering for Catholic Charities programs and providing financial support, including the $5,000 disaster relief grant awarded this year. 
Catholic Charities is a non-profit human service organization that advances the charitable and social mission of the Diocese of St. Cloud. It builds communities, promotes family life and enhances human dignity by providing quality services to meet the physical, social, emotional and spiritual needs of individuals and families of all faiths and beliefs. 
Funding from Rotary will support Catholic Charities Emergency Services Food Shelf, which provides food to people in need during these challenging times. All funds received will be used to purchase food.
Catholic Charities Emergency Services has remained open for limited food distribution two days a week, with households receiving a monthly pre-packed food. Food shelf distribution has been provided through a walk-up service model with no appointment needed, which allows individuals to practice social distancing precautions. Emergency Services has also triaged requests for a monthly pre-packed food relief service to homebound individuals with the option for home delivery, in addition to continuing its Mobile Food Shelf program, which distributes a pre-packed monthly food relief service across locations.
Learn how you can get involved at
The Open Door 
The Open Door, the largest food shelf in Dakota County, assists thousands of local individuals each month through a variety of programs designed to connect those in need with fresh, nutritious options. These include mobile pantry sites, The Mobile Lunch Box, and the Garden To Table program, which allows families to grow the food their family needs free of charge.
The Open Door’s mission is “a fresh approach to ending local hunger through access to healthy food.” It currently serves at 28 sites across Dakota County and has a waiting list of schools and senior living communities who want to be on its route.
In the first five months of the COVID-19 crisis, the number of families The Open Door is supporting has nearly tripled. It has scaled up operations and has gone from serving 7,000 individuals each month, to nearly 20,000. To date it has distributed more than 1.2 million pounds of fresh and healthy food, an increase from just over 500,000 pounds in 2019. In addition, the Open Door’s Mobile Lunchbox has delivered more than 22,000 meals this summer in two months.
The $5,000 grant that The Open Door received from Rotary District 5950 and supporting clubs will be used to help The Open Door purchase necessary supplies that cannot be obtained through other channels.
Learn how you can get involved at
ICA Food Shelf 
The ICA Food Shelf is a social services agency that offers food, financial assistance, and employment assistance to 800 families each month in the communities of Hopkins, Minnetonka, Excelsior, Shorewood, Deephaven, Greenwood, and Woodland, Minnesota. The ICA works to stop immediate crises, build stability and promote long-term well-being.
The ICA provides services to prevent hunger and homelessness, and to help its neighbors in need find employment. Crisis situations — such as an unexpected car repair, illness, or hospitalization — have a snowball effect, and can lead to a decline in health and a family's stability. 
The $5,000 grant from Rotary will be split between housing stability and food assistance programs. ICA's food shelf uses a choice-based model, which allows individuals to select the foods that they and their families eat and know how to cook. It offers a wide selection of fresh produce, dairy, protein, and other perishable foods, as well as non-perishable vegetables, protein, grains, and more. In response to COVID-19, ICA Food Shelf has adjusted the way in which they provide food, and is now offering pre-packaged options.
Its housing assistance programs include financial assistance for rent and utilities as well as referrals to other service agencies in the area. This program is aimed at helping people stay in their homes, thereby increasing stability and preventing homelessness. 
Learn how you can get involved at
Community Emergency Assistance Programs (CEAP)
Community Emergency Assistance Programs, or CEAP, is a nonprofit organization based in Brooklyn Center that works with local communities to meet their basic needs. CEAP delivers about 1,700 pre-made meals every two weeks, and also funds a grocery delivery service for those who are in quarantine or too vulnerable to leave home. 
CEAP has worked in the community for almost 50 and has partnered with Rotary for decades. It has a choice model food shelf, a thrift store, senior services, a back-to-school and holiday program, and a Meals on Wheels program. Since COVID-19 hit the community, the organization has seen a huge increase in need for the seniors in the community — since March, 42 seniors have been added to the Meals on Wheels program.
As of July 1, 2020, CEAP has also merged with another senior meal delivery program, called Northwest Suburban Dinner At Your Door. The new combined program is called Meals on Wheels: North Suburban Hennepin. This combined program will allow CEAP to be more efficient while continuing to offer the highest level of service to seniors in the community. 
Founded in 1970, CEAP mobilizes resources, shares abundance and nourishes neighbors to create and celebrate a healthier, stronger and connected community. The funding from the Rotary disaster relief grant will be instrumental in growing the program and providing even more nutritious, delicious meals to members of the community in Brooklyn Center and Brooklyn Park. 
Learn how you can get involved at
Volunteers Enlisted to Assist People (VEAP) 
Volunteers Enlisted to Assist People, or VEAP, has a mission to create pathways to stronger, more hopeful communities through access to healthy food, housing stability, and supportive services. VEAP is a nonprofit organization providing food and housing support to people living on fixed and low incomes in Bloomington, Richfield, Edina and South Minneapolis.
VEAP provides food through its on-site food pantry, a mobile pantry, home deliveries and its weekend student food packs to students in its service area. It also offers housing, transportation, case management and resource referral support through the social services department.
VEAP and Bloomington Noon Rotary have had a strong relationship for many years, and the $5,000 disaster relief grant will go to expand VEAP’s food and rental assistance programs. In response to COVID-19, VEAP has developed a drive-up food delivery system so that people do not have to leave their cars when selecting food items. It is also giving 15 more pounds of food per person per visit compared to last year, and has distributed over 2.3 million pounds of food through June 2020 alone. It has also distributed more than $1 million in rental assistance to keep families and individuals who have recently lost jobs in their homes.
Learn how you can get involved at
Written by: Anya Magnuson, District 5950 Digital Marketing Intern
August 24th, 2020