top of page

Our Story

Community Bridge (CB) began as a partnership of Lutheran Social Service of MN (LSS) and Messiah Lutheran Church at the Center for Changing Lives (CFCL or the Center) to enhance hospitality and community outreach in the Phillips West Neighborhood. Both LSS and Messiah Church services and ministries became more visible when they moved in as partners in the brand new Center that opened in the fall of 2008. The neighborhood had its own share of the impact of the nation-wide economic downturn including, loss of employment and thus livelihood. Messiah Church had a food shelf that had been in operation for over 50 years at 25th and Columbus Ave by the time of move to the Center on 2400 Park in 2008. The church and the Center café especially received many people, some who needed immediate help with food, employment, housing, and other basics as well as others who were lonely and in need of a place to belong.

In the fall of 2008, a Café Planning Committee was formed with representation from LSS, Messiah Church and community volunteers and partners to assess the feasibility of operating a café in the newly constructed Center.  Over the next 16 months, the Committee developed a business plan for operating a café that would complement the CFCL services and still be self-sustainable over time.  The goal for the startup of a café was to replace the vending machines with healthy food options.  On December 1st, 2009, the Center Café began operating as a nonprofit café under the fiscal sponsorship of Lutheran Social Service.  The Café began by selling pre-packaged food and beverages.  In January 2010, the Center Café expanded food options to include hot soups and cold sandwiches. Eventually in 2011, a need to provide food for the many events and meetings held at the CFCL saw the need for a catering operation.


The center café and the church’s food shelf drew more volunteers from the neighborhood and beyond.  Some were in dire need of employment but were lacking needed skills. The café expanded and began doing more than just coffee to helping train and mentor people for employment, many of who started off as community volunteers. This need was complemented by the need for workers in the developing catering services which helped provide more hours and a way to support the job training. Community building and connecting people was another important area of focus and a community meal which began as an occasional lunch and movie quickly grew into a weekly community meal in partnership with Messiah Church.

Meanwhile, a need to expand the food shelf to increase capacity and scope of outreach for the growing needs in the community and beyond led to a partnership with Second Harvest Heartland which helped provide more food at lower costs. Community Bridge was established and incorporated as a 501 (c) (3) in 2012. By then, LSS was no longer the fiscal agent of the café. CB became the proprietor of the Center’s food operations including the food shelf operation and café and catering services.


Our mission is to empower people to meet their needs and create opportunities for all to thrive. We do this by:

  • Providing healthy, nutritious food through the Food Pantry, catering, and partnership with Kitchen Coalition

  • Providing entry level employment and training opportunities through the Center Café and Catering

  • Helping Center Café employees increase their skills and achieve recognized Food Service industry certifications

  • Creating opportunity to build a beloved community through community meals and community art engagement events

Our vision is to be part of God’s beloved community by providing food and job training in food services. We do this by welcoming, accepting, and valuing everyone.

To fulfill our mission and vision, Community Bridge has set goals: to offer a hospitable environment for building relationships and developing partnerships; close meal gaps by providing healthy, nutritious food free or at affordable prices and in a manner that limits its carbon footprints; provide work force preparation and “on the job” training and mentoring for the un/underemployed; create sustainable ways for hungry people to be fed.

Open twice monthly, the food shelf provides free food (including frozen meats and fresh produce from community gardens) for over 500 households from community and beyond. Some non-perishable food is provided on emergency basis to assist people who may  need it. The monthly food shelf distribution events provide volunteer opportunities. We provide approximately 5,000 meals per month to members of the community. 

Meet Our Team

Leadership Staff

  • Kate McEwen – Executive Director

  • Dorothy Bates – Kitchen Manage

  • Aniele LeGarde --  Children's Food Program Manager

  • Pablo Armas -- Personal Chef

  • Sando Tolbert -- Personal Chef

Board Members

  • ​Ben Pease - Chair of the Board

  • Tom Abrahamson -- Secretary

  • Carol Charging Thunder

  • Jeff Gangel

  • Rita Harcus

bottom of page