MINNEAPOLIS — The Vikings, great fans and fantastic restaurants from across the Twin Cities convened at The Depot Minneapolis Monday night and raised more than $100,000 to kick childhood hunger.
One hundred percent of the proceeds from Taste of the Vikings — an annual event that traces its roots to the Taste of the NFL that was established during Super Bowl XXVI in Minnesota — will go to the Vikings Children's Fund Summer Lunch Program. The program provides food insecure children with access to food on weekends and during summers when they do not have access to reduced or free school lunches.
"One in six kids in Minnesota are struggling to find food, so Second Harvest Heartland knows how to reach those kids," Second Harvest CEO Rob Zeaske told Vikings.com. "With the help of the Vikings Children's Fund Child Hunger Program, we make sure they get lunches on weekends and over the summer when some of those meals from school might be shut down."
The Vikings organization teamed up with fans, sponsors and some of the best chefs in the Twin Cities to kick hunger at the 2015 Taste of the Vikings, raising over $100,000 in the process.
Vikings players donned aprons and served up the samples with smiles and autographs as attendees navigated the culinary circle. Teddy Bridgewater posed for photos as an additional fundraiser, with fans also getting to stand beside Bridgewater's Pepsi NFL Rookie of the Year trophy.
Head Coach Mike Zimmer returned for his second straight year and was received warmly with handshakes and even a couple of hugs.
Mystery lunchboxes with unique prizes were sold, and a silent auction was also part of the fundraising effort.
Attendees were able to enjoy live music by Chris Hawkey and a painting demonstration by artist Tom Mosser, whose work will be among the art collection inside the Vikings future home, U.S. Bank Stadium. Mosser created three original works of original art for auction during the event and publicly debuted his innovative technique of using footballs to apply paints onto canvases.
A panel of judges evaluated small plate samplings from talented chefs and crowned "Pumpkin!" from Zelo as the evening's top item, but all involved helped the event's success.
"Taste of the NFL started here in Minnesota at the Super Bowl in 1992 and had one mission: to raise awareness and dollars for hunger," Taste of the NFL Founder Wayne Kostroski told Vikings.com. "As we extend this out to teams, it's the same thing: to raise awareness and dollars for hunger, except 100 percent of the funds will stay here locally to help families in Minnesota."
The Minnesota Vikings and the Vikings Children's Fund Child Hunger Program have raised more than $640,000 since 2009 to help feed hungry children.
The Vikings and Second Harvest Heartland appreciate help from event partners: Pepsi, MillerCoors, E&J Gallo Wine, Clear Channel, Unilever, UnitedHealthcare and KMSP.
About Vikings Children's Fund Summer Lunch Program
*The Vikings Children's Fund Summer Lunch Program was founded in 2008 with the purpose of addressing childhood hunger in Minnesota. Through coordinated efforts with Second Harvest Heartland, the program has grown and become a success with creating more meal sites and providing additional SFSP meals for the 1 in 6 Minnesota children experiencing hunger. *
About Second Harvest Heartland
Second Harvest Heartland is one of the nation's largest, most efficient and most innovative food banks. In 2014, we delivered more than 74 million meals to over 1,000 food shelves, pantries and other partner programs serving 59 counties in Minnesota and western Wisconsin. Second Harvest Heartland helps relieve hunger not only by sourcing, warehousing and distributing food, but through data-driven thought leadership and community partnerships that help improve the region's larger hunger relief system. For more information, visit 2harvest.org or call 651.484.5117.
About the Taste of the NFL
The Taste of the NFL (TNFL) is a 501c3 that exists to raise awareness and dollars for hunger relief organizations involved in kicking hunger in America. The Minneapolis-based organization conducts national and local fundraising events throughout the year to raise money to combat hunger issues facing millions of Americans. Since its inception in 1992, Taste of the NFL has raised and donated in excess of $24 million to food banks and nonprofit organizations within the 32 NFL cities and is looking forward to its 25th Anniversary event on the eve of Super Bowl 50 in San Francisco. For more information, visit **TasteoftheNFL.com* or *KickHungerChallenge.com*.*