In St. Paul, Open Arms Gains Room to Grow

Open Arms of Minnesota, featured in Foodservice Equipment Reports July edition.

Open Arms of Minnesota—a volunteer-powered, nonprofit organization that provides meals to critically ill Minnesotans—needed more room.

“We would run out of freezer space at our Minneapolis headquarters and production kitchen,” says Open Arms CEO Leah Hebert Welles. “In the past, we have had to rent a mobile freezer around Thanksgiving and park it in the alley nearby. Demand has grown that much.”

After an extensive search, Open Arms leaders chose a spot in nearby St. Paul, Minn. There was just one problem: The site was an office building. With low ceilings and an abundance of windows, it was not exactly conducive to foodservice. What prevailed, however, were some of the building’s other attributes— key among them proximity to a major highway (putting it within easy reach for the volunteer workforce) and its size, spanning 17,000 square feet.

Fast forward to today, and Open Arms’ St. Paul location, opened in January 2023, has more than doubled the nonprofit’s meal production capacity. “Our two facilities together produce about 1.5 million meals per year,” Welles says. The St. Paul location produces 17,000–18,000 weekly meals—and has the kitchen capacity to double that volume. The original Minneapolis location makes about 12,000–14,000 weekly meals. At press time, Open Arms was serving some 2,200 clients, most of them in the Twin Cities.


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