Eat for Equity: A Fundraiser for the People

On an evening in mid October we pulled our car into a neighborhood in Northeast Minneapolis. As we stepped out into one of the first really crisp fall nights of the season we followed a crowd of people walking from parked cars and bikes to a well lit house. Brazenly parked in front of the house was a school bus with the words "Sister Camelot" painted on the side. Inside the bus was a fully equipped kitchen where a feast was being prepared. Though I was tempted to stay outside and investigate, it was quite chilly so I made my way through the gathering of people into the house where the Eat For Equity(E4E) event was being held. 


We were among the first guests in the cozy duplex soon be filled to the brim. After being warmly welcomed by our E4E hosts and paying our 10 to 20 dollars for the evening, we wandered over to the table where drinks were being served. The beer was from the West Bank Brewery Club and the Driftless Brewing Co. There were three different kinds to choose from--this was not an easy choice. Then we walked into the dinning room and looked longingly at at least 15 apple pies. More cooking was going on in the kitchen inside the house and someone was at the sink furiously washing dishes,(someone would remain there all evening as only real plates and silverware were used at this event.)  In the back yard there were three small bonfires to bite the chill and a few musicians stood singing and playing instruments. How lucky they were for that nice weather and the back yard space because as the evening progressed to include 230(!) guests, you could barely walk through the house. The people attending were old, young and diverse, including children being towed in bike trailers. Being a part of an event like this is truly one of the joys of living in a city.


When the food was brought in from the kitchens—pans of beautiful roasted potatoes, butternut squash pasta, herbed butter with bread and big bowls of salad—people began making their way slowly through the crowd. I stood in line for what seemed like an eternity, but I was genuinely happy to be there chatting with the person next to me or just observing what was going on around me. Other people seemed to feel the same way. Like me perhaps they were also feeling that we were all part of a community and therefore there was a strong connection to everyone who was gathered for a common reason. Plainly said, we were all there because we loved good food and good company, and had a strong belief that we need to work together to make this world a better place.


So, let's back up. What the heck is going on here? Well, E4E was started in Boston, in 2006, by Emily Torgrimson. A student at the time, she decided to hold a dinner for friends and asked them to donate a few dollars to Hurricane Katrina and thus the idea for E4E was born. Four years ago Emily brought E4E to Minneapolis and it has been growing ever since. It only works if the community is open to the idea. In order for E4E to work, it requires that once a month, an individual is willing to open his or her home and choose a cause--local or national--for that particular E4E event. E4E volunteers come to the home and cook the meals from scratch, provide drinks and entertainment, and throw a great party. Events are held all over the city from cooperative houses to historic mansions to modest duplexes and much of the evening is spent in their back yards. Often the E4E event will serve food that builds a connection to the particular cause, for instance: Pupusas and Salsa Roja were served when raising money for Oxfam Americas work in El Salvador. 


In Minneapolis E4E has raised over $30,000 for a variety of causes such as Youth Farm and Market Project, American Refugee Committee and Heart of the Beast among others. The October event I attended raised $2,400 (an E4E record amount) for Sisters' Camelot. Sisters' Camelot is an organic food shelf that drives the aforementioned school bus delivering meals to low income neighborhoods. One of the nicest things about E4E events are that they are so affordable. Thanks to E4E, students and others who could not pay $100 dollars a plate for a more typical fundraising dinner, have the opportunity to make a difference, $10-$20 at a time. The food is local and organic as much as possible, the company is good and the whole time I had the wonderful feeling that by being there I was contributing to society.


The next E4E event in Minneapolis will be held on January 28 so mark your calenders. To find out more about it and about how you can get involved locally, check out their website or visit them on facebook. Want to see video about the above event with Sister's Camelot? Click here. Fired up to help? They are always looking for new venues to hold E4E events, so consider hosting you own.


Lizzie Holzapfel is a Yogi, food lover and writer. She lives in South Minneapolis and can be reached at: Her last article for SGT was: Changing the country one student at a time.



Eat For Equity goes Rural!

I’ve just put Lanesboro Local on my dinner menu for February 11. That’s the day Eat for Equity (E4E) is coming to cook up a local feast in Lanesboro, Minnesota. Founder Emily Torgrimson and board vice president Laura Nethercut both grew up in Fillmore County (Fillmore Central, Class of 2002).

E4E has volunteered to put on a pre-Valentines spread of locally produced delectables in Lanesboro. The dinner will benefit Lanesboro Local, a non-profit whose mission is to help growers, producers and artisans in rural southeastern Minnesota produce more goods and find markets for their local bounty.

The dinner event begins at 6:00 pm February 11, at the home of Peggy Hanson and Frank Wright at 500 Calhoun Ave S, Lanesboro (formerly the Cady Hayes Bed & Breakfast establishment). Everyone – from near, from far – is invited to join in, to meet some local food producers and to enjoy a delicious feast of cooked-from-scratch local food! Who knows? Such good eats may cause you to imagine a bigger role for local foods in your household.

Come as you are. Give what you can. Bring your friends!

E4E aims to include everyone. So the cost of your dinner is your decision. A donation of $20 or more is suggested — whatever level of generosity you feel you can offer. All proceeds go to sustain Lanesboro Local Marketplace and its programs designed to strengthen rural communities in greater southeastern Minnesota. 

Reservations are encouraged. Email or leave a message at the Marketplace, 507-467-2944. You can also stop by 207 Parkway Avenue N in Lanesboro and sign up. Winter hours are noon to 6, Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays. For more information email Andrea Miehlisch


Kitty Baker grew up on a mixed ag farm, then in a small town, near Rochester, MN. She and husband Keith raised two daughters, living in Kansas City and Minneapolis. A professional writer, Kitty enjoys topics of lifestyle and food, especially since 1999, when they bought a farm, Root River Wilds, just north of Lanesboro, MN. The farm’s spectacularly varied acreage -- bluffs and woods, pastures and restored prairies cut with trails and wrapped in the oxbow of the North Branch of the Root River -- is rich with opportunities to discover and share ways to live abundantly. Her last article for SGT was: Up the ante this holiday season: Improvising with local foods.


Photo credits: Pies and bus photos by Emily Rumsey and Backyard gathering by Jesse Eustis.