County Manager Column from Aug. 11, 2020

This column was originally published as a "From the County Manager" column on our employee intranet.

Today, we launched a new home meal delivery program for our residents who have been adversely impacted by COVID-19 and are challenged to leave their homes. Five community partners have been selected to provide up to 21 healthy, free, home-delivered meals to qualifying residents each week.

In announcing the new program today, Commissioner Ortega, who chairs the county’s Food and Basic Needs Working Group, said: “Many of our families are hurting due to COVID-19 – especially those with mobility and cultural barriers to regularly accessing food and basic needs. We expect this program to safely provide healthy, nutritious meals to hundreds of our residents who need them most.”

The Food and Basic Needs branch – which has been part of our Incident Command System since very early on during this pandemic – worked with Procurement to select and contract with five community partners with the expertise and capacity to expand and enhance the food supply and distribution network prioritizing our most vulnerable communities and those who lack access and transportation. The five home meal delivery partners are:

  • Senior Services Consortium of Ramsey County.
  • Open Arms of MN.
  • Karing Neighbor.
  • Fairview Health Services.                                         
  • Afro Deli & Grill.                                                         

Each partner provides different culinary options, including medically tailored, vegetarian, culturally-specific and Halal-only meals. Applicants for the program are encouraged to review their choices at to choose which partner provides the best options for their needs. Our community partners will screen applicants based on criteria that we’ve established to ensure that these meals are getting into the homes of those who need them most due to COVID-19. Each partner can engage with applicants in several different languages and will follow public health guidelines throughout preparation and delivery – which will cost about $10 per meal.  

After an applicant is participating in the program, they will be required to provide regular information about their participation through interviews and surveys with county staff, too. These measures will ensure that the program is working transparently for the participants, partners and us and allow us to course-correct if needed. 

In total, we’ll be providing up to $1.9 million in meals through this program in 2020 – and will adjust based on demand. Home meal delivery is one of several programs funded by our Ramsey County Investment and Support Efforts ( through the federal CARES Act that we featured in last week’s column.

A huge thanks to the staff from the Food and Basic Needs branch, Procurement and other areas that helped to launch this today! Equal thanks to our community partners who have adjusted their business models to help those who can use their help most of all during this pandemic.