MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Many parts of north Minneapolis sit in a food desert. For some, they have to walk or bus miles in order to find fresh fruits and veggies.

On Martin Luther King Jr. Day, a community came together to give back. They also sought to teach the next generation social responsibility.

The donated food came by the truckload – 60,000 pounds of fresh produce, breads and meats. All of it was to be given away.

“It feels good to know that you are a part of something that is making a difference for so many people,” said Jamil Jackson, a student-athlete at North High School who helped in the giveaway.

His basketball team played a big part in Monday’s volunteer effort.

Volunteer Kenya McKnight Ahad said the day of service was just as important for the young people helping as it was for those who received food.

“We’re teaching them about social responsibility,” McKnight Ahad said.

Imam Makram El-Amin said the food giveaway was what’s needed in a community plagued by disparities.

“From food security to housing, education, a lot of other things…this is just a way for us to give back, especially on a day when we are honoring such a legacy as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr,” El-Amin said.

Partnering with Harvest Foods, Al-Maa’uun Food Shelf, North High School and other community groups made the food giveaway possible.

People from all faiths made up the volunteers. All said that serving others is what their faith tells them to do.

“We’re not here but to serve and to serve humanity, regardless of faith tradition, regardless of ethnicity and social-economic status,” El-Amin said.

As folks lined up to get what was provided, those who volunteered looked happy to be giving back.

“We recognize a need we may not be able to do anything directly ourselves in the way we want to, but we can work through big opportunities like this to give back,” McKnight Ahad said.

Families standing had opportunities to speak to people about other issues they may face. Community groups with resources walked the line and were on hand to help.

El-Amin says this day of service will extend beyond the food given away.

Reg Chapman