The Free Press, Mankato, MN

August 4, 2013

Kids Against Hunger moves

Also looking for restaurants to donate

By Dan Linehan
The Mankato Free Press

---- — Kids Against Hunger’s Mankato offices have moved to the Third Avenue neighborhood, and a grand opening is planned for Aug. 10.

The new 8,000 square-foot location, at 77 Pine St., is slightly larger than the previous location and has higher ceilings to stack more food ingredients, said Ron Osterbauer, executive director and chief operating officer of the New Hope-based nonprofit.

Storing more pre-packed food in Mankato allows for packing events in the region to be more efficiently supplied, he said.

Osterbauer said there’s also a larger change in store for the organization.

Instead of sending pre-packed food to the New Hope headquarters, they’re going to start sending it to their 121 satellite locations instead.

“Mankato’s our model to make that happen,” he said, noting that Mankato already packs more than 2 million meals a year.

“Mark’s on track to do over 3 million” this year, Osterbauer said, referring to operations director Mark Smisek.

The nonprofit is also partnering with Eatiply, a food donation project that works with restaurants to donate money to provide a meal to someone in need.

In this case, Kids Against Hunger would get 39 cents, enough for one meal, every time someone ate a meal at a participating restaurant.

“We’re going to get it going in Mankato,” Osterbauer said.

A selling point for restaurants is that 85 percent of customers who eat at a restaurant because of Eatiply come back.

That’s compelling for restaurants, he said, because retention is a problem for the industry; only about 35 percent of people typically return.

That extra funding is supposed to help solve a recurring challenge. There are often volunteers willing to pack food but no money to buy it.

“A lot of times that ends up being a roadblock,” Osterbauer said.