Refrigerated truck helps MN food bank reach rural communities during pandemic

Jason Hendrix gets behind the wheel and travels almost 135 miles every day for Channel One Regional Food Bank. Every mile makes a huge difference for communities in need.

“I have been driving for the nonprofit organization for seven years,” Jason said. “Every year I drive farther and meet new people who are so grateful for our assistance.” 

This year, Jason is traveling in a new set of wheels – now able to deliver perishable items to those in need, thanks to a UnitedHealthcare grant. These fresh and nutritious items are often difficult to deliver to underserved rural areas, which makes this type of vehicle essential to the food bank’s mission.     

Channel One purchased the 26-foot refrigerated truck earlier this year to help deliver more than 660,000 pounds of food to those experiencing food insecurity — which now includes a growing number of families due to the pandemic.

“Even before the pandemic, we were very much in need of a new truck,” said Virginia Merritt, executive director of Channel One Regional Food Bank. “Now with the increased demand across our service region, we are so grateful that we were able to have this truck in place to ensure we did not see any gaps in our distribution of food.” 

Channel One Regional Food Bank partners with 200 agencies across 14 counties to deliver emergency boxes of non-perishable food, produce, dairy and frozen proteins. 

“We need reliable trucks to make sure that all of our neighbors have enough to eat,” Virginia said. “It’s so simple, yet so important.” 

Channel One says none of this would be possible without the support of UnitedHealthcare and the joint commitment to help end food insecurity.

“UnitedHealthcare is a mission-focused organization and providing to those in need during a time of crisis is something we are committed to and is part of our culture,” said Brett Edelson, UnitedHealthcare CEO of Minnesota. “We are proud to support efforts around food insecurity and are thrilled to have such an energetic and committed partner like Channel One Regional Food Bank.” 

Jason says he’s able to see firsthand how their efforts are making a difference and impacting communities, especially with the effects of COVID-19. 

“It makes our 14 counties feel small, like we’re all family,” he said. “I’m so proud to see how the communities have come together during the pandemic to make sure people don’t go hungry, and I am proud to be a part of it.” 

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