EAGAN, Minn. — The Minnesota Vikings Foundation, in partnership with Xcel Energy, today rolled out Vikings Table, a custom-built food truck that will be used to distribute healthy meals to youth in the Twin Cities who are dealing with food insecurity.
**Vikings Table** is an innovative aspect of the Minnesota Vikings Foundation's overarching goal of advancing the well-being of youth through health and education initiatives.
It will raise funds by serving traditional food truck fare at Vikings home games, training camp and other special events, as well as multiple days per week, and 100 percent of the profits will be committed toward the distribution of free, healthy meals.
"Vikings Table is a new and important program of the Minnesota Vikings Foundation's greater mission to advance the well-being of youth through engaging health and education initiatives," said Vikings Owner/President Mark Wilf. "Approximately 250,000 children in the Minnesota area are missing meals during the summer months. This initiative provides an opportunity for our Foundation to work alongside other non-profit organizations in the fight against youth food insecurity and leverage the Vikings brand in an effort to remove existing barriers facing traditional non-profit work."
The Minnesota Vikings Foundation rolled out Vikings Table, a custom-built food truck that will be used to distribute healthy meals to youth in the Twin Cities who are dealing with food insecurity.
Vikings Chief Operating Officer Kevin Warren said the initiative "will allow individuals, especially young kids who are trying to grow, who are trying to become better students, an opportunity to receive the proper nourishment, the food and the resources during those summer months."
"We're excited here at the Minnesota Vikings to partner with Xcel Energy to make a difference in our community," Warren added. "We're also excited to show that the food truck is another opportunity for the Minnesota Vikings Foundation to show our love and support of this phenomenal community and show our appreciation to our fans and the people who really understand what we try to do here on a daily basis. Yes, we are a professional football team, but more than that, on some days, we're a friend, we're a parent, we're a sibling, we're a grandparent, but most of all, we're a beacon of hope to individuals who may be facing a time in need."
Xcel Energy committed $1.275 million over five years to the Vikings Table, a 38-foot, custom-built Winnebago that was built and donated by the recreational vehicle company. The food truck is a zero-waste vehicle fitted with Energy Star appliances and rooftop solar panels. The rear of the vehicle features an experience room with an 80-inch monitor that can display educational videos and nutritional information.
"We believe Xcel Energy is a big part of the community, but we know that the community loves the Vikings, and to have the opportunity to work with the Vikings on this very important subject, hunger, and the impact it's having on our community and to make a positive difference around it is something we're really excited about," Xcel Energy Chairman of the Board, President and CEO Ben Fowke said.
"We're committed to growing healthy communities, and you can't be healthy if you are hungry," Fowke added. "This program addresses hunger and brings awareness to an issue that many of us are not aware of. We're happy to be part of this initiative, and we think it can make a difference in the community."
Collaboration with Xcel Energy, local non-profit organizations that are dedicated to ending hunger and professionals in food service are central to the plan.
The Minnesota Vikings Foundation will work with local school districts and nonprofits to determine areas with the highest needs and work to remove barriers to food distributions that organizations sometimes encounter.
Two central problems causing the meal gap are voids in geographic coverage and a lack of participation due to awareness and/or social stigmas.
Vikings Table's mobility and the platform of the Vikings can help with both problems.
All food truck operations have been contracted with Tony and Haley Fritz, who have yexperience in the food truck industry.
The Fritzes own two **O’Cheeze** (grilled cheese) food trucks and a brick-and-mortar location in St. Paul's Keg and Case Market, as well as a **Dough Dough** food truck and cookie dough location in the Mall of America. They will be responsible for operating, maintaining and staffing the Vikings Table food truck.
Tony grew up in a single-parent home and said his mother placed emphasis on cost-effective, scratch-made meals.
"We did home-cooked meals because it was cheaper to do it that way than it was to buy, so the whole idea behind the truck kind of just hit home with what we wanted to do anyway," Tony said.
The Fritzes said they appreciate the partnership with the Minnesota Vikings Foundation as a way to impact others in the moment and by passing along what they've learned about "approachable, balanced food."
"The idea is to make things that they can get at the store and copy that meal," Haley said. "Let's say we create a turkey taco, it's healthy and all of that, then they can go and replicate that [for a future] meal because the things that were going to make are going to be cost-effective, so it's finding different ways to make meals so you can feed a whole family on a little bit of money. … The hope is the education and recipes can help people because that education isn't easy to come by."
Warren said the Foundation looks "forward to changing the lives of so many young people here in the Twin Cities and having a chance to lean into a relationship and show that we are stewards of this great franchise and we love this community.
"This is another way to really give forward to the people who are so important to us," Warren continued.