From left Emily Torgrimson, Emily Rumsey and Rachel Buchberger prepare a community feast in Minneapolis, at a home near Lake Harriet. Eat for Equity meals are prepared by volunteers in homes throughout the Twin Cities area.<br /><br /><!-- 1upcrlf2 -->(Bluff Country Reader photo courtesy of Travis Anderson)<br /><br /><!-- 1upcrlf2 -->
From left Emily Torgrimson, Emily Rumsey and Rachel Buchberger prepare a community feast in Minneapolis, at a home near Lake Harriet. Eat for Equity meals are prepared by volunteers in homes throughout the Twin Cities area.

(Bluff Country Reader photo courtesy of Travis Anderson)

Last Thanksgiving Day many in the area were thrilled to see Emily Torgrimson, a 2002 Fillmore Central graduate, interviewed by Jenna Bush Hager on national television. NBC's The Today Show featured Torgrimson and the good works she is doing through her non-profit organization, Eat for Equity.

Eat for Equity, which she founded, hosts monthly benefit dinners for a variety of charitable causes. It is a simple idea, Torgrimson shared - eat, drink, do good and be merry.

Each month, Torgrimson and her team select a different charity or cause to benefit. This inspires a themed menu for a dinner, hosted in a private home.

This group brings people together around good food to raise money for the greater good. The meals are made from scratch using local organic foods as much as possible.

Attendees, mostly young 20-somethings, manage to do some small good for a community larger than themselves.

Since last Thanksgiving, interest in Eat for Equity has surged. Dinner attendance has risen and requests for information and aid to start up Eat for Equity groups have come in from all over the country.

Torgrimson is now working full-time to expand the reach of Eat for Equity.

Over the next months, Eat for Equity will be going on the road to spread its mission, aided by a trailer outfitted as a mobile kitchen and office space.

Depending on funding, Torgrimson explained, she and others will travel to over 20 cities starting in January. They will meet with local organizers for a week to lead them through the process of hosting a benefit dinner with the goal of organizing an Eat for Equity branch in their communities. The tour will build a framework of connection, support and shared knowledge across the nation.

Torgrimson brought an updated Eat for Equity message to the Seed Savers Exchange near Decorah when she spoke at the Harvest Festival on Saturday, Oct. 13.

The "humble idea that could" has really grown. Just last month Torgrimson represented Eat for Equity at Harvard University's Igniting Innovation Conference in Boston, which focused on the creation of social entrepreneurs. The conference ended with an Eat for Equity dinner.

She also met with organizers in Stamford, Conn., where their first benefit dinner was held Oct. 20.

In New York City, Torgrimson worked on making connections with other non-profit groups.

Torgrimson is excited for the tour. The tentative list of cities to visit include Madison, Wis., Chicago, Springfield, Mo., New Orleans, Austin, Texas, Phoenix, Los Angeles, Santa Cruz, Calif., San Francisco, Sonoma, Calif., Portland, Ore., Seattle, Wash., Denver, Colo., Atlanta, Ga., Washington, D.C., Philadelphia, Penn., New York City, Stamford, Conn., Boston, Portland, Maine and Detroit, Mich.

If one has friends and family in these communities, let them know she is coming and encourage them to attend one of the events planned there.

In discussing the tour, Torgrimson shared there are several expected impacts this tour will make in terms of food, giving and community.

"It's going to serve thousands of plates of fresh, local food," she said. "Each event will have anywhere from 100 to 200 guests, and we plan on over 20 stops, so that's an average of 3,000 meals shared."

It's going to raise thousands of dollars for local causes. "We anticipate each event will raise at least $1,000," Torgrimson explained. "So that's a projected $20,000 raised for causes that address inequities in health, the environment, education and opportunity, and short term relief and long term sustainable development. Plus, we're setting up branches for sustained fundraising efforts, so the number is exponentially greater when you think of 20 branches organizing at least four events a year, but often more."

The tour will also build community, Torgrimson shared, by establishing and building up branches in each of these cities, and setting up branches for continued fundraising and community-building efforts.

There is need yet for donations to support the tour. The Eat for Equity crew is volunteer driven and support has come from many individuals and from grants. Efforts are continually being put forth into fundraising, including lobbying for corporate support.

Torgrimson and her team have acquired the mobile kitchen trailer but are still in need of a truck to tow the trailer. For more information see http://eatforequity.org/ or contact a local Bluff Country newspaper office.

Torgrimson earned a Masters in Public Health from the University of Minnesota - Minneapolis this past May. The University selected her and Eat for Equity this spring to use as an example in promotional materials of the excellence of its students and the impacts they are making in the world.

Earlier, Torgrimson received her Bachelor of Arts in journalism at Boston University. Six years ago, while at Boston University, she first came up with the idea for Eat for Equity, which started as a response to help Hurricane Katrina victims.

Local support for Eat for Equity has been strong. Individuals from Fillmore County have provided ingredients for the dinners. Pro-bono aid from local professionals has provided vital leadership and hands-on guidance, including the retrofitting of the trailer to be used as the mobile kitchen.

Another 2002 Fillmore Central graduate is also very involved in Eat for Equity. Laura Nethercut serves as vice-president of the Minneapolis Eat for Equity Board.

Eat for Equity is built on the idea that each individual has something to give - whether time, energy and ideas, or money.

It's mantra is "Come as you are, give what you can (and have fun while you are doing it!)" So if one learns of an Eat for Equity event being held in the area, join in the fun and help Torgrimson and her fellow volunteers do good.