For all 2022 Minnesota Food Shelf Survey results, visit the SuperShelf website.

When Angie Cruzen became Executive Director of Gather and Grow Food Shelf and Connection Center in Waconia (previously known as Waconia United Food Shelf), she was committed to hearing from  the voices of her shoppers, and determined to make their shopping experience as positive as possible. Now, after three years in her role, and with one statewide food shelf survey under her belt, she is proud of the progress she has seen.

By the spring of 2022, Angie was serving on the 2022 Statewide Survey  Advisory Council and engaged in the creation and implementation of the 2022 version of the Minnesota Food Shelf Survey. Still committed to learning from her food shelf shoppers, and with plans underway to survey other subsets of her constituency, Angie was excited to have input on the statewide survey as she saw it as a “great opportunity to give shoppers a voice,” knowing their feedback would be read and respected. It was the perfect way for their organization to start the survey process with the infrastructure and framework for the project already in place.

Now that her first survey is complete, what has Angie, her staff and Board learned from the results?

First, there were many positive, reinforcing messages consistent with the previous survey, reassuring them that the organization is on the right track. To an extent, the survey results also serve as Angie’s personal report card or annual review to their Board of Directors—a commentary on how she is doing as a leader. Rest assured she is making the grade. 

But along with all the positive messages, they also have gained insights into ways to improve, particularly in a world that currently looks very different from that of the last survey. Food shelf users aren’t only visiting the food shelf to fill the gaps in their pantries any more; rather they are using the food shelf to actually fill their pantries regularly, a significant shift since the 2019  survey and indicative of our post-pandemic world. Personal care and household items are consistent needs along with food. And, despite a wealth of positive responses, there continue to be challenges to their budget and capacity, leading to difficult but necessary conversations between Angie and her Board.

Also, as a response to the need to consistently keep shoppers in the loop, some new communications strategies have been put in place: shoppers can keep abreast of important food shelf information and events through e-newsletters and a new VIP Facebook page created just for them, to keep them in touch with their caring community. 

Angie is clearly committed to learning all she can about all the various groups who are connected with the food shelf. She formed a Data Task Force made up of passionate Board Members with an aptitude for data, along with herself, who are taking a deep dive into the survey results and continuing their efforts to gain feedback from other groups including volunteers and donors. She also has formed an “Amazing Experience” Committee to break apart the survey and analyze open-ended responses.

In all, the statewide survey has offered Gather and Grow the perfect engagement opportunity for their Board members who are “100% on board” with the survey, as advocates and believers in sharing what they’ve learned from the survey and turning information into action. And shoppers can be assured that their voices have, in fact, been heard and action is being taken as much as possible.

To learn more about Angie’s journey through the 2022 Minnesota Food Shelf Survey and and how they are utilizing data in their service decisions, email her at:   

If you have a great story to share about how your food shelf is utilizing the 2022 Minnesota Food Shelf Survey results, we’d love to highlight it!  Email for more information.

For all 2022 Minnesota Food Shelf Survey results, visit the SuperShelf website.