It’s been a challenging year for our clients and our community, but difficult situations often allow us to better appreciate the positive moments that help define who we are as a community. Last week was a perfect reminder of this. On Friday, Open Arms achieved an incredible milestone: the delivery of our 7-millionth meal!
Former Minnesota Twins player Joe Mauer kicked off the day with a special video message. “During my 15 years with the Minnesota Twins, I proudly wore #7,” said Mauer. “Although my number is now retired, I am excited to share that, today, my friends and community heroes at Open Arms are delivering their 7-millionth meal. […] Thank you to all of our Open Arms friends and supporters for giving us 7 million reasons to celebrate today.”
Later, Senator Tina Smith came to visit our building in South Minneapolis, where Open Arms’ executive director Leah Hébert Welles handed her the 7-millionth meal before joining the senator to deliver directly to our client Patience, a retired college professor with ALS. Speaking on food insecurity, Senator Smith said, “It was a big deal before COVID, but now with COVID, we’re seeing a dramatic upsurge in people who don’t have the food that they need.”
Senator Tina Smith & Open Arms’ client, Patience (Photo by Amy Anderson)
“I have ALS, and the meals delivered weekly despite the virus pandemic is awesome,” says Patience, who has been receiving our medically-tailored meals since 2014. “I live alone and have escaped the virus so far. But that’s because of the food delivery from Open Arms. It’s the thoughtfulness of supporters, staff, and volunteers that makes my world bright. ALS has placed limits on my physical abilities but not on my appreciation and gratefulness to those of you who make my little corner of planet earth a happier place.”
The speed at which we are delivering meals is something of a milestone itself. It took Open Arms 20 years to reach its first million meals, cooking from just a single oven at our original site. But from our current location, which boasts five stoves in a state-of-the-art kitchen, the most recent million meals took less than two years to reach.
Celebrating this milestone serves as a reminder that delivering more meals also means onboarding more neighbors with life-threatening illnesses. We are extremely proud that we’ve kept up with the demand for our services, even though our client list has increased by an astonishing 30% since the COVID-19 outbreak alone. What’s more amazing is that, because we act from a place of abundance, there is still no waiting list for our meal services.
We can measure our meal deliveries in many ways — preparation time, ingredient costs, delivery volunteers needed, etc. — but the impact of the meals on our clients is immeasurable. Delivering seven million meals is not just a big numerical milestone, but also a symbol of our entire community’s commitment to nourishing all the critically-ill neighbors who need our help. Our efforts are not possible without your continued support.
Thank you so much for supporting Open Arms and our clients. Because of you, we truly are in this together.