Neighbors Come Together to Support ICA Food Shelf

Food has a way of bringing people together—from Sunday brunch with a good friend to experiencing the food of another culture for the first time. We bake cookies for new neighbors, celebrate accomplishments with steak dinners and so on. For the past five years, food has brought the Lake Minnetonka area together in yet another way—to help make sure everyone has enough to eat. The Great Taste, now in its fifth year, is put on by ICA Food Shelf in Minnetonka. On the night of the event, the Minnetonka Community Center transforms into a festive space. The building fills with people, tables are adorned with colorful drinks and appetizers from local restaurants, and the space comes alive with stories told by volunteers and community members who have experienced food insecurity.

“We try to tell the story of ICA and what impact we have as part of the community,” says Peg Keenan, executive director of the ICA Food Shelf. The event is filled with activities, from games to photoshoots to a silent auction. This year’s live auction will be comprised of five items, including tickets to the last local weekend of Hamilton.

There are multiple ways to experience The Great Taste. For $65 dollars, community members can purchase a Taste Ticket, which includes entry to the event, and the delicious appetizers, wine and beer donated by local restaurants. For those who want to experience the full event, $150 buys a Wine and Dine ticket. At 8 p.m., Wine and Dine ticket holders will leave the community center and be chauffeured to one of the event’s participating restaurants to enjoy a delectable full dinner. “A lot of times, the restaurants have a special menu [the night of the event],” says Keenan.

“We’ve heard from chefs that they love doing it; they love that they are able to give back,” says ICA communication specialist Monika Salden.  
All of the money raised goes to support the ICA Food Shelf. “This is truly neighbors helping neighbors,” says Keenan. Last year the ICA Food Shelf served about 5,765 individuals, which is about 819 families, every month. “We have people in our area of all incomes,” says Keenan. Despite the need, past years of The Great Taste have proved there are many in the community who want to help end food insecurity.

“This is a community of friends and neighbors who care about people in need,” says Salden.

Besides delicious food, emotional stories and the fight to make sure community members have enough to eat, The Great Taste has another element up its sleeve—surprises. Maybe it dates back to that giddy feeling of hoping for a surprise party as a kid, but people seem to love surprises. For those who purchase a Wine and Dine ticket, “the restaurant you’re going to will be a surprise,” says Keenan. But with so many fabulous lake-area restaurants participating, including Coalition, 6Smith, Jimmy’s Kitchen and Maynards, no matter where you end up, it's sure to be a delight.

And in turn, after the event is over and everyone has driven home, food is still the main act as ICA uses the funds raised to continue to make a difference in the community. “We all know people who could use the food shelf,” says Salden. “People are often surprised at who is in need.”

The Great Taste
October 4, 5 p.m., Minnetonka Community Center, 14600 Minnetonka Blvd., Minnetonka.
To volunteer, donate or find more information, visit
For event info, visit the website here.