Local food shelf provides culturally specific foods for immigrant communities

CAPI is a nonprofit with a food shelf designed to serve immigrants and refugees

Ekta Prakash
Ekta Prakash is the the executive director of CAPI. The nonprofit provides culturally specific food for immigrant and refugee communities in need.

The COVID-19 pandemic has made it tough for many Minnesotans who are already experiencing food insecurities. According to the Minnesota Department of Health, the state is the seventh worst in the nation for share of residents with access to healthy foods.

For immigrants or refugees facing hardships, finding food that caters to their culture can be even harder. The nonprofit CAPI is an organization that helps the newest Minnesotans navigate social services and has offered a culturally specific food shelf in Brooklyn Center for over 30 years.

“The organization was founded in 1982 after the Vietnam War, and the sole purpose was to provide culturally specific food,” said Ekta Prakash, executive director of CAPI.

From jasmine rice and Asian noodles, to curry powder and even bamboo shoots, CAPI offers cultural must-haves that typically wouldn’t be found at a local food shelf. The nonprofit has since expanded to serve all immigrants, refugees and communities of color in the Twin Cities. Prakash said the work is necessary now more than ever.

“It becomes really important because as for many cultures that's how you connect is food,” she said. 

Prakash said it has been hard finding the culturally specific items throughout the COVID-19 pandemic but hopes CAPI can stay afloat as new and old faces come to find food that remind them of home. 

Click the audio player above to learn more about how CAPI is serving immigrant communities during the pandemic.

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