Hastings Tastings event goes a long way to helping hungry in community

Number of families food shelf helps up 53% in the last year


Great food, and an even better cause.
The Hastings Tastings event to benefit Hastings Family Service was sold out again, as St. Elizabeth Ann Seton’s Parish Hall was packed Monday evening with people sampling the best from Hastings dining establishments and stores. For the $40 price of admission, the hall was lined with tables occupied by food, beverage and treat purveyors, offering ample samples. In the background, Pastor Randy Berg of Cavalry Christian Church in Hastings played the piano, dressed in his finest tuxedo T-shirt.
The admission price may not have seemed like much with so much to sample, Hastings Family Service Executive Director Amy Sutton said that money will go a long way to help feed the hungry in the community.
“This just gets better and better every year,” said Sutton of the event, in its 27th year. “The restaurants bring their ‘A’ game. It’s always the most delicious meal of the year. While we’re eating this delicious meal, our $40 donation is feeding a family of four for over a week. That’s what this event is all about. How do we feed the hungry people in Hastings.”
March is Minnesota FoodShare month, which is a big deal for helping feed the growing number of families in need.
“Every dollar and every pound of food is proportionately matched by Minnesota FoodShare,” said Sutton. “Other than Christmas, this is our biggest time of the year. It’s what sustains us through the busy summer months when kids are home, and the food shelf tends to get a little bit busier. So, it’s a really critical time for us. Part of that is because we are seeing such a huge increase in need, really. In order to meet that need, we need things like this where the community comes together and supports us.”
Sutton said there was a 53 percent increase in the number of families utilizing Hastings Family Service last year.
“We distributed 425,000 lbs. of food. The need is growing. That’s really in line with what they’re seeing statewide. This past year, there were 7.5 million visits to food shelves, and that was up by 2 million over 2022. There’s just this huge escalation of need.”
She’s asked often: “What is that happening? I think we’re just kind of in that perfect storm where we’ve come out of COVID right into an inflationary economy, where all those basic things like food and gas have all escalated in price. People have come off that with some job losses, some lower income, some medical bills and things that they’re still taking care of. Some families are living really close to the edge and can’t quite absorb that. But that’s why we’re here to help them.”
The event featured raffles and auctions and a lot of people who got together to help. That’s what Hastings is all about, said Sutton.
“It’s amazing. We’re just privileged to do the work, and this community does the heavy lifting. They support what we do. It’s really the beautiful thing about Hastings is that it’s neighbors helping neighbors,” she said.
Offering food and beverages at the event were:
Alexis Bailly Vineyard, American Legion, Bimi Thai, Coborn’s, Culver’s, Dugarel’s Bar & Grill, Hastings Public House, Hastings Raider Nutrition, Lock & Dam Eatery, Me & Julio, Missi’s Sip & Savor, Spiral Brewery and Spiral Food Co-op.
From the restaurant standpoint, the event is great exposure.
“We’re hoping that people will see what everyone has to offer and stop in and support them. The restaurants are all so great and so supportive,” said Sutton.

How to help: All monetary gifts and pounds of food and care items collected through April 6 will be proportionately matched by Minnesota FoodShare to support HFS food programs, making an even greater impact.
Community members can help in multiple ways. Financial gifts can be made online, mailed, or dropped off at HFS.