Partner Profile: Appetite For Change


During the Fall Systems Leadership Retreat in Kansas City, we got to know Melanie Heckt from Appetite For Change in Minnesota and were inspired by this young leader’s brilliance and passion for food justice. After hearing about how awesome this organization is, we circled back around and asked her to share Appetite For Change’s work with the rest of the FSLN membership in this Partner Profile piece. Read on to learn more about how Appetite For Change is using food as a tool for building health, wealth, and social change in North Minneapolis by shifting youths’ involvement in the food and agriculture, building a resilient and community-led food system, and partnering with others to create effective policies.

Appetite For Change Background:

Founded in 2011, Appetite For Change is a community-based, food-justice organization in North Minneapolis. Our programs include community cooking workshops, urban agriculture, and organized food policy efforts. We train local youth in urban farming, food preparation, and leadership, with a focus on providing career pathways to the foodservice industry and beyond.

Appetite For Change also owns and operates Breaking Bread Café & Catering - a restaurant and job training program serving healthy, global comfort food - and Kindred Kitchen - a rental commissary kitchen and food business incubator.

In just five years of operation we have gone from a start-up organization with an operating budget of less than $25,000 to a more than $2 million organization that employs 45 staff (33 FTE), with an additional 35 youth participating in our paid employment training program. AFC has quadrupled in size since 2014, and has become a leader in grassroots, community-based work on the Northside.

Catalyst Kitchens, FareStart, and Homeboy Industries have all provided inspiration for our work.

Systems Leadership Approach

How does Appetite For Change partner with others to catalyze systems change?

Since 2013, Appetite For Change has hosted the Northside Fresh Coalition, a network of over fifty community members, organizations, and businesses working towards building a resilient, self-reliant food system in North Minneapolis. We build partnerships across the food system, share resources, and use our collective voice to advocate for policies that increase opportunities for our community to grow, sell, buy, and eat healthy, affordable, culturally appropriate food.

Policy Wins we’ve worked on with our partners:

  • Spring 2017: The Minnesota Legislature passed the Urban Agriculture Bill, a first of its kind $500k grant fund for urban agriculture/youth development. The Good Food Access Program (est. 2016) provided $250k to increase statewide food access.
  • June 2018: A City of Minneapolis ordinance change that allows mobile markets to park on city streets was passed. (Food Justice Policy Platform win)
  • October 2018: The Minneapolis Parks and Recreation Board passed a resolution approving the Community Garden Policy, a policy allowing residents of Minneapolis to grow and harvest food from designated Minneapolis park spaces. The Board intends to proceed with budgeting a partial Urban Agriculture staff to facilitate the establishment and creation of this program. (Food Justice Policy Platform win)
  • December 2018: The Farm Bill was passed and for the first time included $25 million to Urban Agriculture to form an Urban Agriculture Office with $9 million towards a grant fund. Back in March we went to Washington D.C with some of our partners to advocate for federal urban agriculture funding.

Appetite For Change Learnings:

What is 1 key to your organization’s success? 

The #1 key to our success is our community-led approach. We are both community-led and community-based.

AFC approaches social entrepreneurship in our community with 3 priorities:

1) All products and services benefit the community. They are resources and tools that build equity and improve access to real food, self-determination, and strong relationships for Northsiders.

2) Products and services are provided by Northside residents. We grow our own food and buy from local growers, increasing income and growing local business. We hire Northside staff, providing training and employment to improve our community.

3) Revenue stays in the community. The income generated from our social enterprise is invested back into organization, increasing food access and creating jobs in the community​​​​

Given what you know now, what are three things you wish you'd done differently as the organization developed?

  • Invested in administrative costs/needs more on front end
  • Invested more time cultivating individual donors/support vs institutional giving

Successes/Challenges

What is one of Appetite For Change’s proudest achievements?

The Grow Food video and the opening of Breaking Bread Cafe.  

What is one challenge you’re facing right now? Anything your fellow FSLN members might be able to help with?

Managing the rate of growth and meeting the community’s demand in way that doesn’t burn out staff.

Jumping in here! The FSLN can help! In February, the FSLN will be kicking off 2019’s Non-Profit Boot Camp eLearning series with its Organizational Wellness and Resiliency Course that will go into managing burnout and employee wellness. Register for the course here!

Needs/Resources

Have you created any useful processes/resources that you’re particularly excited about? If so, please share!

In 2017 Northside Fresh created a Food Justice Policy Platform that outlines seventeen policy recommendations for the Minneapolis City Council and Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board focused on sustainability, urban agriculture, zoning, and good retailers. The Food Justice Policy Platform was created to be a platform for our community to take the lead on voicing solutions that are best suited for our needs. It also includes our definition of food justice (document attached in the Story).

The Social Gastronomy Movement is a global movement that Appetite For Change is a partner of – FSLN members might be interested in checking it out!

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