FFEN works to improve the responsiveness of Minnesota’s food shelves to increase access to fresh, healthy food

About Us

The hunger relief sector has become increasingly complex in recent years.

Food sources have evolved, levels of community need and demographics have changed, and more competition exists for donor and volunteer support. FFEN is here as an ongoing resource and partner to help food shelves adapt to this new environment.

Our Mission

Reshaping the Minnesota Hunger Relief System.

Our Vision

A hunger-relief system all shoppers trust to predictably offer healthy food options and a dignified experience.

Our Goals

  • Advance a sector culture centered on shopper priorities.
  • Build system capacity to improve service and experience.
  • Invest in organizational capacity to sustain impact.

Our Values

  • We prioritize the food-shelf shopper voice and experience in all of our work.
  • We take time to listen and build honest and reciprocal relationships.
  • We honor unique community context and seek to include additional perspectives and expertise.
  • We cultivate a spirit of abundance to foster creative solutions for local and system innovation.

Meet the Team

Changing the hunger relief system in Minnesota requires a committed and diverse team of staff and volunteers. Meet the leaders, working alongside skilled-volunteers, who move FFEN’s mission forward on a daily basis.

FFEN Staff

Kate Burggraff
Executive Director


Kristin VanHeel
Director of Advancement


Katie Bulls
Director of Programs

Quentin West
Program Specialist


Jenny Moore
Program Coordinator


Lindsey Noyed
Community Engagement AmeriCorps Vista


FFEN Board of Directors

Haley Nelson, President
Recruitment Manager at Conservation Corps Minnesota & Iowa,
Joined 2019

Hernan Rojas, Vice President
Senior Project Manager,
United Health Group,
Joined 2021

Michael Niznik, Treasurer
Tax Principal,
LB Carlson, LLP,
Joined 2017

Katherine Winter, Secretary
Director, Partnerships and Clinical Integration, Omcare,
Joined 2021

Sue Gillman
Owner and Managing Partner,
Supurna LLC,
Joined 2015

Jessica Rausch
Director, Global Sales and Service Enablement,
RBC Global Asset Management,
Joined 2017

Dave Sumnicht
Business Payroll and IT,
Joined 2016

Katie Bourget, CFA
VP, Managing Director, Head of Municipal Research at Travelers,
Joined 2022

Jasmine Anderson, RD
Senior Project Manager, Enterprise Project Management Office at Bright Health,
Joined 2022

Alexis Bylander
Senior Child Nutrition Policy Analyst at Food Research & Action Center,
Joined 2022

Carla Kohler
Community Health and Equity Program Manager at Blue Cross Blue Shield Center for Prevention,
Joined 2022

 History and Milestones

Founded in 2011, a dedicated group of Minnesota business leaders, professionals, and others, formed the Foundation for Essential Needs to develop ways to end hunger and poverty and secure stability for basic needs organizations. In 2013, FFEN’s leadership expanded its service area across the state to solely focus on food shelf support; since then, engaging with nearly 200 food shelves across Minnesota, as well as Regional Food Banks and Statewide Hunger Relief Partners.

  • 2011 SEPTEMBER
    Incorporated as a 501(c)3 Non-Profit.
  • 2013 FEBRUARY
    Expanded reach to all food shelves in Minnesota; issued first service grant to 10 Suburban Hennepin County food shelves.
  • 2013 DECEMBER
    Moved into first office space (701 N. 3rd St. Suite 203 in Minneapolis).
  • 2014
    Created Granting Policy to fund all food shelves across Minnesota, particularly in underserved areas; granting $20,000 to five food shelves.
  • 2014 JUNE
    Hosted Welcoming Party to introduce donors & volunteers to FFEN’s office.
  • 2014 NOVEMBER
    Participated in first Give to the Max Day.
  • 2015
    Expanded funding to food shelves to service and financial grants.
  • 2016
    Launched Initiative to focus on food shelves in the seven Iron Range counties.
  • 2017
    Reorganized internally to reflect a consultancy able to better respond to requests from food shelves.
  • 2018
    Partnered with regional food banks to identify ways to further increase collaboration.
  • 2018 OCTOBER
    Hired Kate Burggraff as Executive Director.
  • 2020 MARCH
    Began statewide partnership with MN Dept. of Human Services - OEO.
  • 2021 SEPTEMBER
    Celebrated 10 year anniversary by hosting Reshaping Hunger Relief Breakfast.
  • 2022 JANUARY
    Became a leading partner on the 2022 Food Shelf Survey.