People Donate 29,000 Bags of Food to Families After Stores Burned by Rioters in Minneapolis

People Donate 29,000 Bags of Food to Families After Stores Burned by Rioters in Minneapolis
(Stephen Maturen/Getty Images)

A vital supply drive for needy families in Minneapolis amassed huge support from the community after rioting destroyed many stores in the area.

Over the final weekend in May 2020, a number of grocery stores and services were forced to close in the aftermath of riots sparked by the death of George Floyd. As a result, many local residents, including families of the students of Sanford Middle School, suffered restricted access to food and essential supplies.
According to Good Morning America, the riots destroyed every single grocery store within walking distance of the school.

School principal Amy Nelson was contacted by a concerned parent in the hope of organizing a food drive. After Nelson posted a call to arms on social media, the response from the community was nothing short of overwhelming.

"Aldi, Target, Cub, they were all burned out and looted," Nelson told Today. "The same with Walgreens and CVS. There's nowhere to go buy groceries, diapers, or shampoo."

Nelson's initial request was for enough donations to make up 85 food kits for local families. The school, closed as a precautionary measure owing to the ongoing pandemic, would be the site of the drop-off on May 31.

"I think people were looking for something to do," Nelson explained. "We had countless people drive up. They were at a grocery story 25 miles away and people there were buying from our same grocery list."

Even before the Sunday morning drive-by donation drop was scheduled to begin, donations had already filled the sidewalk, far surpassing Nelson's expectations. With vital supplies amassing with lightning speed, Nelson had a bright idea; she contacted local food bank nonprofit The Sheridan Story and told them there were bags to spare.

"We started in [the] parking lot and then covered every square inch of grass," said Nelson. "It got so congested, we sent a truck down to a nearby park. People waited over an hour to drop food, some started dropping food off on the avenue."

Rob Williams, founder of The Sheridan Story, shared photos of the overwhelming haul of vital supplies on Instagram. "As we get close to wrapping up the day, but certainly not our work, our words are few and full of love," he wrote, "the outpouring of community support we experienced today was … simply beautiful!"
A number of Sanford Middle School parents and students volunteered to sort and distribute donations, reported CNN. By curfew on the eve of May 31, the volunteers were still sorting groceries.
The following day, The Sheridan Story posted an update on social media. "Yesterday was the biggest food drive we've ever seen … and perhaps one of the largest ever in Minnesota," they wrote.

The community came together, forming a line "approximately 14 blocks long," providing a total of about "18 semi-trucks of food," they continued. They planned to continue distributing food supplies that families can count on as the community heals.

Williams, who described the donation drop as a "very emotional day," told Today that the donated supplies would go toward helping hungry kids in the local area. "The goal was, and is, to get food into those neighborhoods where the grocery stores had to close, where it became a food desert," he said.

"The response was from people of all backgrounds, serving people of all backgrounds," Williams continued. "This is what we want Minnesota to be about." Donors arrived from as far away as Iowa, and monetary donations were sent from as far as Germany.

Williams estimated that the vital supplies garnered by the donation drop helped some 2,000 local families. Excess nonperishable items, he said, would be stored and distributed at a later date.

"The thankfulness was palpable," Williams reflected. "This area became a food desert in 24 hours with no warning, and people really needed this food immediately. There were tears all around."