On November 8th Goracke experienced political pain.
“I ran for city council and I got creamed,” Goracke said of his attempt to get elected in Blaine’s third ward.
But Gorake’s loss is the North Metro’s gain – especially for those who struggle to put food on the table.
“So it was pretty clear to me that I just need to continue to lean into my strengths of feeding people…” Goracke said. “We just felt like that this is what we were called to do, to feed people.”
Gorake quickly shrugged off the council defeat – and is now laser focused on making sure no one goes without food, water and other basic needs.
“That’s really at the heart of what we do is we fight food insecurity in the family,” Goracke said.
In 2010 Gorake started a Blaine food shelf called Hope for the Community.
We didn’t know what we were doing back then,” Goracke said. “We put food out in the snow bank to keep it cold. The first week we helped 27 families in Blaine. Now 12 years later, last week we served 1,033 families which is like 3100 people.”
From those humble beginnings 12 years ago, Goracke’s vision has morphed into a food shelf empire.
Said Goracke: “We’ve never turned anyone away in 12 years.”
He currently operates six in the North Metro, and another food shelf is going to open at Anoka Ramsey Community College.
There have always been people in need, but in these turbulent and uncertain times, more North Metro residents than usual are struggling.
“It’s a complicated thing, food insecurity,” Goracke said. “Sometimes people, nothing that they could control, things happened to them. They got hurt in a job or they got displaced by a job and all of a sudden they need help. That’s why food shelf usage is up. Other times maybe they made a bad decision. But that’s what we’re here for. We’re here to bring hope.”
One of the food shelves is located at Coon Rapids Middle School, which has a refrigerator, freezer and plenty of nutritious options. The once a month giveaways have been a boost to some people who are struggling in these post-pandemic times.
“Absolutely,” said CRMS Principal DeMann Seals. “I don’t know how long it’s going to take us to get to what we call normal, but I think that doing the little things that we can do here in our community is well worth it.”
Hope for the Community can be a bridge to those in need.
“The people behind the scenes,” Seals said. “They’re the true heroes in what we have in our schools and the benefit we bring to our families.”
“Right now after 10 months of food shelf usage, Hope for the Community is up 45 percent,” Goracke said. “Last week 1,033 families. One year ago 560 families. So, it’s been crazy. The need is great right now so there is a lot of people that need help. They’ve never ever dealt with the situation of inflation before…We’re on pace to serve total company, 60,000 families about 2 million pounds of groceries this year. We’re here to bring dignity and hope into people’s lives.”
Hope for the Community relies on 120 volunteers that serve weekly. Without these food angels, some people would go hungry.
“I talked to my accountant and he goes ‘if you had to pay all these volunteers a year, it would be $4 million…’ Goracke said. “Can you imagine if we had to pay for the labor to do all this? Then we wouldn’t be able to buy all the food.”
The Blaine food shelf is one of the largest in Minnesota. There are seven food banks in the state and Hope for the Community partners with Second Harvest Heartland.