Ed PhotoIn April 1986 some employees of the State of Minnesota had a simple, but extraordinary idea. That year, Minnesota and the nation were in the midst of escalating homelessness and hunger resulting from major shifts in the economy and the government safety net. Shelters and food shelf facilities were inadequate and could provide only the most basic of services. So State workers decided that they would direct their employee giving specifically to support hunger and homeless organizations. Soon, the idea spread to other public sector workplaces in various municipal government agencies and school districts. Eventually, many private sector workplaces joined in.

Over the next 30 years, more than $15,000,000 has been raised and distributed to hunger and homeless agencies across the state. Where food shelves once stocked only canned and boxed food, Open Your Heart’s investments in cooling, storage, transportation and essential equipment means that healthy produce, dairy, and meats are now widely available. Where homeless people once slept on thin mats on floors, now shelters can offer not only beds, but showers, hot food, and program space to help homeless people get back on their feet.

Click here for the personal account of Open Your Heart’s History by Mike Fratto, one of our most important founders. Thirty years ago it was his vision and hard work that helped Open Your Heart go on to support hundreds of Minnesota’s front line agencies dedicated to serving the poorest and most vulnerable among us. Thank you to Mike and all employees with their commitment to helping all of our neighbors.


Ed Murphy