In the early 2000s, Emily Torgrimson was a college student on financial aid. She lived in a cooperative house in Boston with 24 people. “We always came together around food,” she recalls. “The kitchen was the hub of the home.”
During Emily’s senior year, Hurricane Katrina struck the southern US coast. Not only was Katrina one of the costliest and deadliest storms in US history, it also uncovered financial and racial inequities. Emily wanted to do something, but, she says, “I had no money to give. So, I wondered what kind of difference I could make.”
Because it was Emily’s turn to cook in her cooperative house, she was looking at recipes, when she stumbled across a recipe for jambalaya. This gave her an idea. She asked her housemates, “If I made a New Orleans themed meal, do you think people would throw in a buck or two for hurricane relief?” Her housemates agreed. They handed out fliers. They invited friends and classmates. In the end, one-hundred people showed up, ate Cajun food and raised money for hurricane relief. They called the event “Eat for Equity.” Eat for Equity eventually became Emily’s life’s work.
After returning to Minnesota, Emily began to host Eat for Equity meals with her roommate in their small home. After about a year of monthly meals, a friend, Jane, hosted an Eat for Equity meal. People who knew Jane showed up for the meal. Then Eat for Equity began to grow to more homes, more social causes, and more people who were willing to experience something new.
How does Eat for Equity Work? You walk in to a home, an art gallery or a farm. Volunteers have prepared a feast with from-scratch cooking, utilizing local produce. You give what you can. That might be $10 or $50. You might not have money, but you can volunteer to help with dishes or provide music. The meal supports a nonprofit cause.
Eat for Equity also hosts dinners called “The Welcome Table,” which is focused on immigrants and refugees. Four cooks are featured in each dinner. Each course reflects their family heritage.Social Entrepreneurship Quotes from Emily Torgrimson
“You walk into abundance.”
“How do you use food to bring people together to support a great cause, to address inequities around us?”
“I think of Eat for Equity as trying to create connections.”
“There are all these ways you can give that feed you and also create something bigger around you.”
“You can be generous with what you have.”
“You share a piece of yourself when you cook for people.”
“I wanted to be part of the story, as much as I wanted to tell it.”
“I fell in love with Minneapolis and the culture of collaboration.”
“Catering has basically doubled every year.”
“Just try something and see how it feels.”
“Everything happens around food.”Social Entrepreneurship Resources:
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