Events to move forward ‘rain or shine’
“Lots of connections happen at a backyard barbecue,” said Community Emergency Assistance Programs Director of Development Rachel Hickok. “This is CEAP’s backyard barbecue.”
On July 13, CEAP invited the Brooklyn Center community to its Farm Fresh Fest, a farmers market-style occasion featuring produce stands, food samples, a drill team performance, games and more. Families lined up to fill their baskets in the CEAP parking area, which the organization converted into the improvised pop-up market.
“Rain or shine,” Hickok had said the day before, “we’ll be out there.”
Summer can be a difficult time for some Brooklyn Center families, according to CEAP President Clare Brumback and Communications Manager Kalleah Kennedy. Children from food-insecure families rely on the school district for two of their three daily meals. That’s why CEAP steps in to help each summer.
Summer is the group’s busiest time, which is why it puts on events like Farm Fresh Fest, a personal favorite event of Hickok’s.
“One of our core values is bringing neighbors together and fostering connections,” she said. “Events like this happen because the community supports CEAP. We’re able to give produce to families, have games for kids and provide music and entertainment throughout the [Farm Fresh] season.”
Each Farm Fresh Fest, which is put together every other Friday, will have a special theme. CEAP themed its first event as the kickoff and offered root beer floats as its treat. Farm Fresh Fest will run until Nov. 2, well into the fall.
“This is about enjoying the company of neighbors,” Hickok said. “Farm Fresh Fest is an important part of our health and wellness goals. This event started because we wanted to get nutritious fruits and vegetables into families’ hands during peak harvest months when that food is bountiful in the community.”
Though it’s still only July, CEAP is gearing up to supply students with fresh food to take to school. Farm Fresh Fest and CEAP’s other ongoing event, the Open Your Heart to the Hungry and Homeless Challenge, are poised to do just that.
“[The start of school] will be here before we know it,” Hickok said. “CEAP’s planning for that starts now.”
According to CEAP, more than 13,000 children in the community go without meals during the summer months. Anything donated during July is matched with CEAP’s Open Your Heart grant.
“It’s a chance to bolster our support in a time when we need it,” Hickok said.
CEAP will also accept donations of school supplies or funds for back-to-school needs through the end of August.
“We are better when we work together,” Hickok said. “This is a place where everyone can enjoy the abundance of what the community has to offer––food and security. CEAP fills that place when one of those things are vulnerable. We are catching families and propelling them forward. It’s so much more than being in an emergency. We want them to have fresh fruits and vegetables. We want people to volunteer because they love hanging out with neighbors. This is a place to be part of our community.”
CEAP is encouraging community members to volunteer at its Farm Fresh events, each of which takes about 40 volunteers. Signing up for specific shifts and roles is a quick and easy process, Hickok said.
“CEAP serves at the goodwill of the community,” she said. “It’s their donations of time, talent and treasure.”