This article appeared in the June 05, 2020 edition of the Monitor Daily.

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Loaves and fishes, and a Minneapolis middle school

Lucas Jackson/Reuters
People are seen at a food donation point near the area that have been burnt during the protests against the death in Minneapolis police custody of African-American man George Floyd, in Minneapolis, on May 30, 2020.
Peter Grier
Washington editor

As you might imagine, daily life has been upended in Minneapolis, due to protests about the police killing of George Floyd, and law enforcement efforts to contain them.

In some areas access to staple products has been a problem. The problem is distribution, not supply. Supermarkets have been burned out and looted. Chain drug stores are shuttered too. There are few places to get food, diapers, or toothpaste.

Enter Sanford Middle School, in the city’s Longfellow area. The school is located only a few blocks from the 3rd  Precinct police station, which burned at the height of the city’s unrest last week. A parent raised the supply issue with principal Amy Nelson, and she put up a request on social media for 85 food kits for donation to Sanford students and their families. 

They got a lot more than that. Several orders of magnitude more. Last Sunday morning, traffic was backed up for at least 14 blocks as cars from as far as Wisconsin pulled up to unload bags and boxes of food and other necessities.

“I think people were looking for something to do,” Principal Nelson told a television interviewer.

First, they covered the parking lot. Then all the grass of the school’s lawn and play fields. It got so crowded food had to be moved to a nearby park.

Some people waited more than an hour to unload. The pile of Cheerios and other breakfast foods got so high workers dubbed it “Mount Cereal.”

Ms. Nelson quickly saw they would have more than her school community needed. The Sheridan Story, a local charity dedicated to fighting child hunger, stepped in to help. At the end of the day, Sheridan Story officials estimated that the haul represented one of the largest food drives ever held in Minnesota, netting about 18 semitrucks full of food. 

“We live in a great city, and we have people who want to help,” Ms. Nelson told the local CBS affiliate. “The response has been overwhelming in a very positive way.”

This article appeared in the June 05, 2020 edition of the Monitor Daily.

Read 06/05 edition
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