Backus Community Café was nominated by Coop Service for its dedication to providing an accessible solution to local food insecurity while bringing neighbors together and strengthening community connections.
"Being rewarded this grant means so much to our small community," says Lois Lundin, executive director of Backus Community Center.
"It brings us so much joy to be able to serve our community, especially having the ability to provide basic necessities to those who need it most."
Backus Community Café serves neighbors in need
Located within Backus Community Center in International Falls, Minnesota, Backus Community Café began in 2012 with a small kitchen staff that prepared free meals twice each week alongside numerous local volunteers that helped serve the meals prepared.
Between 2019 and 2021, the café has increased the number of meals provided from 4,689 to well over 25,200 to meet the demand of the community's rising poverty rate and increased food insecurity as a result of COVID-19.
Today, the Backus Community Café remains committed to its community as it continues to provide hot, nutritious meals to those in need. Through countless volunteers, a summer food service program for children and by creating a space for elderly residents to gather and socialize, the Backus Community Café serves not only to provide essentials but also as a place for community connection.
Through its mission to reduce hunger and serve neighbors in need, the Backus Community Café works hard to foster community connection within the northern Minnesota region. With the help of the Hometown Pride grant, the café's impact will only be strengthened.
The Backus Community Café plans to use the grant to fund approximately 6,000 additional meals for its community members.
"Within the past year, the Backus Community Café has become a huge rock in the community as it helps address such a great need in International Falls by providing an average of over 300 meals per week," says Steve Crosby, petroleum manager of Coop Service.
"We are grateful that, through our partnership with Cenex, we have the opportunity to further the impact of Backus Community Café, ultimately getting our community the resources they desperately need."
Cenex Hometown Pride grant program
Heading into 2023, Cenex will have invested over $400,000 into local organizations across its footprint since the Hometown Pride grant program began in 2019. Cenex stores are locally owned and operated, and the Hometown Pride grant enables them to give back to organizations within their communities that make an impact.
"The Cenex brand is extremely honored to play a part in supporting the local communities where we do business," says Sarah Haugen, marketing communications director at CHS.
"With the Hometown Pride grant and through our network of dealers, retailers and distributors, we are able to see true meaning of community while helping organizations best serve their neighborhoods."