Where’s the beef? Which veggie burger are we INto?

With the rise of plant-based diets AND an absurd amount of veggie-burgers stowed away in our freezer, it’s fitting for us food-honchos to sample a few veggie-based burgers and let you know which is on our menu this season.

The criteria:

Four types of veggie burgers are going head-to-head (or, should we say, stem-to-stem), critiqued on texture, flavor, and bonus points for packaging with extra pizzazz.

*All veggie burgers were cooked in the oven as a standard.

The contenders:

  • Hilary’s
  • Dr. Praeger’s Super Greens
  • Dr. Praeger’s California blend
  • Trader Joe’s Quinoa Cowboy

The breakdown:



Although, branded as “The World’s Best Veggie Burger,” Hilary’s was one of our least favorites. The anemic appearance and bland taste left us unimpressed and uninspired. However, considering it is essentially free of everything (gluten, corn, dairy, egg, soy, and nut) there’s likely a niche consumer out there who loves it. With adequate sauce and toppings, Hilary’s burger can see lots of improvement.


We loved Hilary’s playful packaging and immediately felt drawn to it through its vibrant color and fun use of doodles – though, if you stare at the sun too long…it gets a little creepy. We also noted that the product loses appetite appeal in contrast to the fun, trendy packaging.

Dr. Praeger’s



When Dr. Praeger’s says super greens, they mean it. Like the name suggests, this burger was rich with spinach, kale, swiss chard and more, which was honestly a little too green for our tastes. The green assortment and seasoning profile provided a fresh flavor, but it fell apart easily.

California blend:


After two so-so burgers prior and flagging morale, our hungry team needed to regain hope for the veggie burger. The California blend pleasantly surprised taste buds with its flavor, crunchy texture, and maintaining its patty shape.


Dr. Praeger’s packaging makes you want to eat a veggie burger. They leverage appetite appeal expertly, showcasing the burger prepared and in the hands of a consumer. Their design offers a pleasing visual balance between the product and information. If we were to change one thing, however, it would be the brand name itself…”Dr. Praeger’s” doesn’t leave us craving veg-burgers.

Trader Joe’s Quinoa Cowboy


Roped in by the southwest flavor, this quinoa blended veggie burger instantly became a team favorite. A crispy breadcrumb outside brought out the flavors of black beans, corn, and red peppers, while keeping shape.


After the brands were revealed, we immediately knew this was a Trader Joe’s brand because of their recognizable, visual-rich, and consistent packaging. But, we briefly second-guessed ourselves, as the Trader Joe’s logo gets lost in the imagery.

The consensus:

Ultimately, we have faith that there ARE really good, delicious, drool-worthy veggie burgers out there, but we’re just not sure that we found them today. The standout favorite among our team was Trader Joe’s Quinoa Cowboy Burger, followed by Dr. Paeger’s California Blend. From there, many of us decided to hold on to our carnivorous identities a little tighter.

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Navigating Trade Show Season 2018


Tradeshows can be expensive and overwhelming, but they are also an excellent marketing opportunity. If you’re on the fence about participating, read on! We’re laying out the reasons trade shows could be advantageous for you, tips to make your show a success, and a list of upcoming shows where you can make your splash in the industry.

Why attend a tradeshow?

Participating in a tradeshow means multiple days in the same room as thousands of people who have the potential to grow your business: buyers, sellers, distributors, influencers, packaging experts, marketers, etc. It also provides the unique and valuable opportunity to network with other food companies, see new trends in the biz, scope out the competition and build new friendships.

How to make your show a success?

Be as prepared as possible.

Just when you think you have everything on your list, there’s something else, right? Each tradeshow comes with a learning curve and it’s good practice to get as prepared as possible ahead of time. Note: printing materials, shipping, and set-up can be more time consuming than you think. It’s important to plan ahead and make sure you have enough time to set yourself up for success. Shipping a pallet? Make sure to throw an extra roll of shrink wrap in for its return.

Other musts on your packing list:

  • Display materials (signage, tablecloth, banners, etc.)
  • Business cards (and a pouch to collect the ones you get)
    • We recommend writing a few notes about the conversation you had on the back of the card, so it’s easy to recall who you spoke with when looking through your stack of cards after the show.
  • Samples and small giveaway items
  • Sales sheets
  • Company information
  • Comfortable shoes – Trade shows make for lots of standing at the booth or walking around the show. Plus, if you’re traveling, you might want to do some celebratory sight-seeing after the show!


This is a balancing act. You need enough people to allow breaks and help with set-up, but you don’t want your booth to feel overcrowded. Three people manning the booth at a time is usually a good number (depending on how large your booth is). Other hands on deck can walk the show, checking out trends and competition.

Stand out

With hundreds of other vendors, this can be a tall order, but above all remember that it’s important to create an experience and remain true to your company. Pro-tip: Samples, freebies, and demonstrations attract an audience. Also, a lot of people get full (can you imagine?) from all the samples, so hand-outs and on-the-go samples are important to consider.

Know your talking points

What is the main message you want to promote? How does it align with your business goals for the year? Have this prepared ahead of time to keep your conversations on track.


Be approachable. This should be obvious, but tradeshows are a lot of work and exhausting. No matter how many cups of coffee it takes to get you through the day, keep a smile on your face and be ready to talk to anyone… you never know how far a good impression can go.

Convinced you want to exhibit?

Check out these upcoming shows!



Planning for a trade show?

Let’s work together.



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A growing movement: plant-based dining

grain-bowlRecently, we’ve noticed that many people are turning to plant-based diets in an effort to reduce their carbon footprint. From flexitarian to vegan, we’re digging into how (and why) people adopt different lifestyles to lessen their impact on the environment. Plus, as card-carrying food industry buffs, we’ve got the inside scoop on why incorporating more veggie-based options might be the next best way to boost sales at operations across all segments.

The meat industry’s impact on the environment:

Phew, this could be a thesis-level analysis of scholarly articles, but we’ll spare you the lofty hypotheses and keep it simple with some cold hard facts. If you’re interested in learning more, we have a bunch of resources posted below!

  • Growing livestock feed in the U.S. requires 167 million pounds of pesticides and 17 billion pounds of nitrogen fertilizer EACH year across 149 million acres of cropland.
    • The process generates copious amounts of nitrous oxide, a greenhouse gas 300 times more potent than carbon dioxide.
  • Red meats such as beef and lamb are responsible for 10 to 40 times as many greenhouse gas emissions as common vegetables and grains
  • If diets continue the way they’re headed (that is, heavily skewed in the direction of carnivore), this will lead to an 80 percent increase in global greenhouse emissions from food production by 2050.

Amidst all these doom and gloom statistics we should mention that there’s a compromise that doesn’t translate to “eat exclusively rabbit food or we’ll all die.” It’s true that an overwhelming majority of the meat industry still relies on systems that are incredibly destructive to the environment. Fortunately, emerging agriculture practices, such as organic, grass-fed, and pasture-raised meats offer an environmentally responsible way to enjoy a nice juicy steak every once in a while.

Environmentally conscious diets:


~22.8 million Americans are flexitarian. A flexitarian diet is exactly what it sounds like …a flexible vegetarian diet. Flexitarian is defined as a person “whose normally meatless diet occasionally includes meat or fish.” Basically, eat a vegetarian diet, but make exceptions here or there.


~7.3 million Americans are vegetarian, meaning no meat at all. Vegetarians get their sustenance from things like vegetables, beans, grains, fruits, dairy, and eggs.


~1.6 million Americans are vegan. Taking it to the next level, a vegan diet eliminates all animal by-product. No meat, dairy, eggs, etc.

Fresh menu items we’ve got our eyes on:

Think outside the tofu container! There’s been a lot of great innovation happening in the plant-based category. Some flavorful ideas include, but are not limited to:

The Impossible Burger

Made from 0% beef, this burger cooks, tastes, and bleeds like the real deal. It uses 95% less land, 74% less water, and creates 87% less greenhouse gas when compared to its beef counterpart.

Grain bowls

A meal composed of a grain base. Add sauce, vegetables, toppings, proteins (meat, tofu, eggs) and arrange in a fun, visually appealing way, because why not.

Superfood salads

Lunch runs to our North Loop neighbor Crisp & Green are a near-daily occurrence in our office. Packing a salad with superfoods like avocado, kale, blueberries, quinoa, seeds, and nuts elevates it from side to main dish. If our office is any indication, the superfood salad is a great way to go.

Blended burgers (not entirely beef)

An ongoing competition from the James Beard Foundation has encouraged chefs around the country to give blended burgers a try on their menus, which goes to show that support for experimentation with plant-based and blended proteins is coming from all levels of the food industry. We particularly love the one from our neighbor, Red Cow!

Curious about your carbon footprint?

Visit the WWF Footprint Calculator. Note: it’s a U.K. based-test so some terminology may be different, but it’s practical, robust and pretty accurate.

As a food company (or, for instance, an agency that specializes in helping food companies reach their highest potential…wait, that’s us!), it’s impossible to please everyone. However, taking steps to formulate more preference-inclusive products, offerings and menus can have huge benefits for your operation. Repositioning, repurposing or introducing veggies and grains can go a long way toward preserving our precious natural resources AND bring in business from the growing number of flexitarian, vegetarian and vegan consumers.







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We’re growing – say hello to our five new hires!

Quick! Grab five extra plates and scoot over to make room, we’re growing and we’ve added five new faces to the IN Food crew over the past several months.

Graphic Designer, Maddy Baker (second from left), joined the team in August, bringing previous experience with mouthwatering food and foodservice imagery as a designer for HyVee Corporate. (She’s a perfect fit for an agency that specializes in heating up sales for food companies!)

Content Strategist, Caroline Carlson (far right), followed closely behind Maddy in September. Caroline adds her own food industry expertise gained as a writer for organic food cooperative Organic Valley, as well as a meticulous red pen, to the IN Food arsenal.

October welcomed Account Coordinator, Nina Bernardi (second from right), to IN Food’s office. The team benefitted immediately from Nina’s keen attention to detail, unparalleled organizational skills and previous experience doing account coordination for an agency in Des Moines, IA.

In February, Account Executive, Maggie Alt (center), pulled up a chair at the IN Food table. Coming from an Account Executive role at cloud-based retail software company SPS Commerce, Maggie has been a natural—and invaluable—addition to the team.

Not long after Maggie, Social Media & Marketing Intern, Ciara Metzger (far left), jumped on board. Ciara graduated from the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities with a B.A. in Strategic Communications and brought to IN previous food industry marketing experience working for local muesli company Seven Sundays. Ciara keeps all things social media running smoothly here at IN…so smoothly in fact, that she has already been promoted to a full time role and will soon be our new Digital Marketing Coordinator!

Last week all five new team members received our signature IN Food welcome: a food fight featuring each new hire’s favorite food. We love how these images capture each person’s personality, and prove that as an agency we can handle just about anything that’s thrown at us.


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Making Food Connections

About Food Connections:

Food Connections is a Twin Cities group of food professionals who meet 4-6 times per year to network, exchange industry knowledge and expand their own capabilities through trusted partnerships. We sat down with Anita Nelson, president/owner of IN Food Marketing & Design and Food Connections founder to learn more about how and why Food Connections was created.

Industry professionals gather for a Food Connections meeting.

About 13 years ago, a food packaging design company contacted Anita about sales and marketing support. This interaction sparked a thought: other companies might also be in need of specialized skills.

“I started to think of Minneapolis and St. Paul as a sort of food mecca,” Anita says, “With companies like Land O’Lakes, General Mills, and Schwan’s, there are so many professionals in the area that serve the food industry in a variety of specialties, like photography, package design, food styling, writing, media, and more.”

Anita set out to unite these professionals so they could be a resource to one another by sharing information, collaborating, and networking. The result was Food Connections.

When asked why she chose to start this group, Anita says, “I love connecting and bringing people together. I felt there was an untapped need for this type of group.” She continues, “Additionally, I thought this would be a great way for us to expand our network as a smaller agency. We don’t have all the specialized resources on-staff, but we have a trusted group through Food Connections that we can turn to.”

As trends, best practices and expectations continue to shift rapidly in the food industry, it’s important to have a group to rely on when change occurs. Anita hopes to see continued growth for the future of Food Connections.

“There’s power in a collective. My goal is to continue to expand the group and help others make meaningful connections. Hearing stories of people meeting at Food Connections now collaborating on projects, is one of the many benefits I get from the group,” she says.

A message from the members:

Throughout the years of Food Connections, members have built relationships with people they can count on. We asked a few people to share their experiences as members of this group and how it has impacted them professionally.

Here’s what Julie Kendrick, writer and Food Connections member has to say:

Food Connections members enjoy a breakfast over conversation and collaboration.

“We humans — all of us — are changing the what, why, when and how of the way we relate to food. Those of us who provide creative services to the food industry must respond with grace, agility and bareknuckled street smarts if we want our businesses to survive these many changes. One of the best ways I know to get through ‘interesting times’ is to openheartedly share with those who are experiencing the same thing. At Food Connections, we are given the opportunity to gather around the table and ask questions, share ideas and offer insights about what it all means and where it might be going. That, plus a steaming hot cup of coffee on an early weekday morning, should be enough to lift any weary creative’s spirits for the long days ahead.”

Jean Moench, marketing professional, and Food Connections member also shared her experiences.

She tells us, “I attended my first Food Connections meeting several years ago with no expectations. During this meeting, each attendee introduced themselves and concisely explained what they offer. We exchanged business cards, discussed, shared and mingled. I happily walked away knowing I met some great new contacts. The very next week I ended up getting a call from a company that was looking for a marketing contractor. As it turns out, I was blindly referred to them by a Food Connections attendee. The result was a 4-year, 15-25 hour per week ongoing relationship and multiple contacts in the company. Not all of my networking efforts have been this seamless and bountiful but, I have found that each networking activity usually has some level of benefit.”

She continues, “I am grateful for In Food Marketing and Design’s tenacity in offering a consistent forum for us to gather and collaborate.”

How to join:

Food Connections is open for anyone to join, and once you’re in, you’re in. It’s encouraged to attend meetings when available, but ultimately, it’s a low pressure and low-cost (read: no cost!) group.

Tasty treats provided at a Food Connections meeting.

“Opening our doors to people, offering them a good breakfast, and helping them make connections is what we enjoy,” explains Anita.

Since its founding in 2005, Food Connections continues to gather on a regular basis with a core group of about 65 people. One thing Anita loves about the group is the mix of people attending each meeting — there’s always an opportunity to meet someone new. Our LinkedIn group has grown to over 300 people and a recently created Facebook group is growing fast, too.

Interested in joining Food Connections or know someone who might be? Contact Anita Nelson at anita@infoodmktg.com.


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The Lowdown on Pizza Expo 2018

Pizza Expo 2018 in Las Vegas was one for the books – walking between booths with increasingly full bellies and slightly less-full wallets (what’s a trip to Vegas without a round of video poker?) we kept our eyes peeled for the very latest trends in pizza. Here’s what we saw…er, tasted:


Emily and Anita meet with General Mills’ Pillsbury Doughboy

  1. Get on board with charcuterie. Booths everywhere displayed boards of artfully arranged cured meats, both alone and with honeys, nuts and cheeses. The message was clear: simple, elevated appetizers are in. Many pizzerias are choosing to create signature charcuterie boards with flavors that represent their operation, while others switch it up weekly in order to drive diner interest and use up extra ingredients they have on hand.
  2. Health-forward options are turning the tables on tradition. Besides “Non-GMO,” “Made with real ingredients,” and “Organic” signs everywhere, new companies are popularizing innovative ways to freshen up pizza. Cauliflower pizza crust, made with cauliflower as the first ingredient and thickened with almond flour, appeared at several different booths. We were pleasantly surprised by the taste of this unconventional crust, but the familiar texture is what really won our hearts. Who knew cauliflower could be such a satisfying alternative to traditional crust?
    • Another plant-based variation on the classic ‘za appeared at Pizza Expo in the form of vegan cheese. This trend isn’t entirely new to us since it’s already begun making its way around the Twin Cities (check out Parkway Pizza’s partnership with the Herbivorous Butcher!) but our hunch is that pizza lovers everywhere will be offered an increasing number of vegan cheese options in the future.
  1. Your booth makes a difference. Well-designed, well-staffed booths attracted more visitors, especially if samples or demos are involved. From one food industry expert (and bona-fide pizza fanatic) to another (you wouldn’t have read this far if you weren’t also obsessed with pizza, right?) here are some quick do’s and don’ts:
    • DO create a welcoming atmosphere. Try making a small café- or diner-like space in your booth. Not only does it give people a place to rest, it’s a great conversation starter.
    • DON’T overstaff sales reps. Balance the space you have with a non-intimidating number of personnel—no one wants to feel ganged-up on, even if that’s not your intention! If you have several team members at an event, take shifts. While some reps handle the booth, others can scout for new trends or competitive insights around the expo.
    • DO get interactive. Show what you know! Experiment with hosting a live demo or get conference attendees up close and personal to interact with your product. People need an enticing reason to stop by your booth.
    • DON’T forget water or beverages. Pay attention because this is important. There’s no way that we were the only Pizza Expo attendees searching for a water fountain between bites of pizza. While EVERYONE had mouthwatering food samples, there were no liquids anywhere! Try branded water bottles and cups to serve refreshments with your savory treats – trust us, attendees WILL find you.

Here’s to next year! (And no, we’re not sick of pizza).

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Emily Erickson promoted to Account Executive

IN Food Marketing & Design believes strongly in supporting, advancing and investing in our best and brightest. Put two and two together and you’ve likely already figured out why Emily Erickson was recently promoted to Account Executive at this Minneapolis-based communications agency. No, she’s not a good employee, account person or strategic thinker—she’s an excellent one.

Emily works tirelessly to ensure clients’ needs are not only met, but far surpassed and she does it with contagious excitement and enthusiasm. She is a quick thinker, adept at building, nurturing and maintaining relationships and helping foodservice companies connect with their target audiences.

IN Food Clients rest easy knowing they are in Emily’s capable hands, she worked as a Marketing Specialist at B2B e-commerce company Four51 before joining IN Food in January 2017. Emily’s personal interest in cooking, ordering and devouring mouthwatering food comes in handy here at IN. Emily’s clients include General Mills, T. Marzetti Foodservice, WholeMe, Burnett Dairy Cooperative and Pizzey Ingredients.

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You had us at pizza. Which brand is a freezer must-have?

At IN Food, all we’ve been thinking about is pizza (hey, Pizza Expo). Can’t say anything would be different if we weren’t going, we love this staple favorite. So, inspired by our love of cheesy, saucy goodness, we decided to compare a few frozen pizza brands to determine which is the absolute freezer must-have.

The criteria

We purchased 4 brands of frozen pizzas (all cheese only) and tested them based on overall taste, cheesiness, and sauce. After revealing the brands, we reviewed the packaging.

The contenders (price: low to high)


Price: $4.19

Overall Taste: 2.2/5

Cheesiness: 2.4/5

Sauce: 2.4/5


  • Overall, we enjoyed the sauce, the crispy crust, and an even melt of cheese. However, compared to the other pizzas it left us feeling uninspired. When it comes to improvements, we wouldn’t say no to more cheese!


  • We found it interesting that Jack’s was the only brand that used photography of an enticing cheese pull on their packaging. They effectively matched packaging with their target audience (younger male, college students).

HEGGIE’S (local)

Price: $7.99

Overall taste: 3.5/5

Cheesiness: 3.2/5

Sauce: 3.7/5


  • This local pizza offers a nice, cheesy flavor that’s rich and satisfying. It has a favorable amount of cheese and tangy sauce with notes of fresh tomato.


  • We like the smaller label that shows off the cheese and pizza goodness. A less-sophisticated design provides that ‘local brand’ appeal.

KOWALSKI’S (local)

Price: $7.99

Overall taste: 3.5/5

Cheesiness: 3.1/5

Sauce: 3/5


  • Authentic ingredient flavor profile, topped with two cheeses and seasoning. The sauce leaves something to be desired – we wish there was more!


  • The busy design distracts from the pizza itself. The illustrated ingredients give an artisanal feel, but overall it doesn’t have us craving pizza. Compared to other brands, it has us wishing we could see some of the pizza.



Price: $11.99

Overall taste: 4/5

Cheesiness: 4.25/5

Sauce: 4.2/5


  • When they say Lotzza Motzza, they mean it. We LOVED the abundance of cheese on this pizza. Brew Pub perfected the cheese pull with great coverage and texture. Accompanied by a full-bodied and flavorful sauce, this pizza left us wanting another slice (or two!).


  • Again, we love the smaller label that shows off the cheese. Especially when this pizza has so much! The circular label works well with the shape of the pizza. We thought Brew Pub did the best job showcasing their pizza and brand with their packaging.

The results

Lotzza Motzza is the winner on all fronts. Though its regular price is most expensive, our taste test confirms that, in this case at least, you get what you pay for!


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Chocolate and stout…that’s what love is about!

Indulge your sweetheart (or office mates!) with decadent truffles this Valentine’s Day. As a nod to our North Loop neighbor, Fulton Brewery, we chose their Worthy Adversary Stout for this recipe.

Chocolate Stout Truffles


Creamy Centers

1/4 cup Nutella spread
6 oz. milk chocolate, coarsely chopped

Truffle Filling

1 1/2 cups (1 bottle) Fulton Worthy Adversary Stout beer
12 oz. good quality chocolate (60% cocoa content), chopped


8 oz. good quality chocolate (from a shiny bar, this means it has previously been tempered) can be milk, dark or white chocolate


Creamy Centers

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Heat milk chocolate and Nutella in microwave for 30 seconds or until just melted. Stir until completely combined. With a teaspoon portion 36 1/2” dollops on parchment. Leave in the freezer for 1 hour, until frozen.

Truffle Filling

Add the beer to a pot over high heat. Reduce by half (about 3/4 cup remaining), stirring frequently. Remove from heat, and add the chocolate. Stir until smooth and melted.

Allow to cool to room temperature. Cover and refrigerate until set, about 2 hours.

Use a melon baller to scoop out a small amount of chocolate. Remove centers from freezer. Sandwich one dollop in the middle of the truffle mixture and roll into a ball with your hands. Chill for 20 minutes to an hour.


Heat chocolate in double boiler, on low. Stir until the chocolate is just melted. Remove from heat. Roll each truffle ball in melted chocolate until coated.

Place on parchment paper, sprinkle with desired topping. Chill until ready to serve.

Topping Ideas

Cocoa powder
Coconut shavings
Chopped nuts
Crumbled bacon
Crushed pretzels
Crushed candy cane
Crushed toffee
Caramel drizzle
Sea salt
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Why Giving Back is Part of Our Business Model

Food is our passion and our expertise, but it should never be our unique privilege.

At IN Food Marketing & Design we believe good business includes social responsibility. That’s why we invest a portion of our time, money and energy in combatting problems like food insecurity, poverty, illness and unnecessary food waste in our community.

Paul Newman, American actor, philanthropist and co-founder of the food company Newman’s Own once said “I just happen to think that in life we need to be a little like the farmer who puts back into the soil what he takes out.” Our team here at IN Food agrees: Paul was onto something.

Here’s where we’ve concentrated our efforts lately.

The Jeremiah Program

Last winter we rolled up our sleeves and traded our keyboards for cutting boards to cook dinner for families at the Jeremiah Program. This program, headquartered in Minneapolis, helps determined single mothers excel in the workforce and prepare their children to succeed in school. It also reduces generational dependence on public assistance—all around a wonderful organization to be involved with and a great excuse for us to cook together (as if we don’t already take every chance we get here at IN Food…)

Second Harvest Heartland—Click for Lunch

Our 7th annual Click for L.U.N.C.H campaign received enough clicks to donate 4,830 meals to Second Harvest Heartland’s Summer Food Service Program!

More than 40% of K-12 kids in Minnesota rely on free or reduced-price lunches, and our partnership with Second Harvest Heartland helps keep these kids fed even when school’s not in session. 

#NationalSandwichDay traditions

For the second year in a row, we celebrated National Sandwich Day by making and donating over 100 sandwiches to Minneapolis Recreation Development, Inc., a local nonprofit serving homeless and disadvantaged youth and families in our community.

The cheese for these sandwiches came entirely from a client photoshoot. We didn’t want the delicious Cady Creek Farms cheese left in our fridge to go to waste, and since we couldn’t use it all ourselves we made sure it went to people who could. (For more about our efforts to minimize food waste, click here!)

Open Arm’s Turkey Drive

This Thanksgiving we participated in Open Arm’s Turkey Drive, and in doing so helped provide Thanksgiving dinner to families in the Twin Cities facing life-threatening illnesses.

Participants in this year’s drive collectively:

  • Raised $61,288 thanks to 409 generous donors—a number that both exceeded Open Arms’ goal and set a new record for the drive.
  • Delivered prepared turkey dinners to 188 families on Thanksgiving morning.
  • Offered frozen turkeys and trimmings to 378 families to prepare with their loved ones.

We see time and time again that food is more than just sustenance for our clients and their customers. Open Arms recognizes this too—giving Thanksgiving feasts to families coping with severe illness as a way to nourish their bodies, and their hearts.


The University of Minnesota Student Parent HELP Center is a program that serves low income undergraduates who are pregnant or parenting children while pursuing their degrees. These hardworking students might not be able to afford holiday gifts for their children after paying for tuition, books, rent, child care, and other family expenses, which is why the HELP Center has set-up Gifts for Little Gophers.

A few of us snuck away from our desks to go Christmas shopping for one of these families—picking out presents for three little girls, one boy and their parents. Back at the office, gifts in hand, we cranked the holiday tunes and carefully wrapped presents, enjoying the knowledge that they would bring holiday cheer to a family in our community.

Cookie Cart

Cookie Cart is a local organization that creates opportunities for Minneapolis youth to gain meaningful work experience and develop leadership skills through food (specifically, cookies!) We love the work they do and were thrilled to design their new van. Keep an eye out for the sleek new cookie-mobile around town.

As part of our partnership, we also welcomed Cookie Cart students to our North Loop office for brainstorming and a Q&A session about our industry. These young people are engaged and inspiring—a wonderful example of the way foodservice organizations can contribute to positive change in our community.

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