By Marielle Mohs

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – Tynika Smith has been making meals every week for people living in tent encampments in the Twin Cities. She’s not looking for praise, but her daughter sent WCCO a note wanting to thank her mom for all she does.

Smith started feeding those living in tent encampments three years ago. She finds the time to do this on top of being a single mother to four kids, and having a full time job at U.S. Bank. She sets aside money with each paycheck to buy the food to cook in bulk, and then collects donations of blankets and coats from friends, family and neighbors.

“Minnesota’s winters are harsh, and not everyone has a way to make it to the hotels that they’re offering,” said Smith.

On Thanksgiving Day, she spent the morning putting together holiday meal boxes, her kids helped her load the car, and then the whole family made the trek to Minnehaha Park to make a drop off at one of Minneapolis’ three tent encampments.

Smith and her kids gave those living there hot meals, coats and blankets, and took the time to make each interaction personal.

“That’s cute, it fits you,” said Smith to one of the women trying on a donated coat.

Tynika’s oldest daughter Zekarhia helped her give out the warm meals on Thursday afternoon.

“I think it’s incredible, I like what she’s doing. It’s very helpful,” said Zekarhia.

It’s clear Zekarhia is thankful for her mom this holiday, and she’s thankful not just for the ability to give, but also the lessons this experience gives back.

“It’s very nice of her to spend half of her day giving people food or things they need,” said Zekarhia, “it’s taught me to help other people and not brag about what you have and things you don’t need you can give away.”

Tynika’s long term goal is to get a storage space. She wants to keep donations there so people can access it when they need emergency supplies.

If you would like to donate any winter items or hygiene supplies, you can contact her at or call/text at 612-403-9037.


Marielle Mohs