The Young Professionals of Minot used a fun event to tackle a serious problem Tuesday morning.
The fourth annual YP Super Market Sweep was held at Dakota Square Marketplace Foods and pitted five teams of two against each other in a quiz show and race around the supermarket aisles to gather food items for donation to the Minot Area Homeless Coalition and area food pantries. The Our Family brand which Marketplace carries also participated in the event.
Veronica Meyer, a member of the Young Professionals of Minot, said the event is modeled after the old TV show of the same name, which pitted teams against each other in a quiz show, followed by a race around the supermarket aisles.
The participants of the Fourth Annual YP Super Market Sweep stand with some carts of food Tuesday. From left are Beth Odahlen and Justine Italiano in green; Ashley Sundsbak and Michele Ross in blue and red shirts, respectively; Andrea Koppang and Samantha Maxwell in yellow; Melissa Selzler and Kendra Larsen in white; and Jersey Benson and Fred Beuchler in gray.
"We have two-person teams that compete. They're asked various questions, and then a few of the questions require them to run out and find certain products and bring them back to win more time," Meyer said. "All the teams fundraised, and all the money that they fundraised they used to buy what we call whammys."
Whammys include adding or subtracting 10 seconds to a team's shopping time, purchasing an item from a basket at checkout, buying a kiddie cart for another team to use during the shopping race, purchasing a large item such as a ball or inflatable swimming doughnut for another team to carry during the race, or handcuffing a team together so they can't split up during the race.
"All the fundraised money is used to buy food," Meyer said. "It's a fundraiser for the Minot (Area) Homeless Coalition, and then it's distributed to all the food pantries."
The quiz, which asked the teams about topics such as food slogans and food prices, gave them the final number of minutes they had to shop during the race. The object of the race was to get as close to $200 in groceries as possible without going over.
There were five two-person teams this year from Minot State University, Velva MOPS, Town & Country Credit Union, FMI and First Western Bank & Trust.
The teams even wore uniforms of sorts, which ranged from simple matching shirts to flashy superhero outfits. Meyer said the teams definitely injected some fun into the event with their wardrobe choices.
"It's a great way to restock the food pantries and it's been successful every year we've done it," Meyer said.
Last year they managed to raise over $5,000, and Meyer was hoping for an even bigger total this year. She said many of the food pantries do their own fundraisers, and the Super Market Sweep lands neatly in between many of them, making it particularly timely to help them restock for the summer.
Samantha Maxwell and Andrea Koppang, wearing matching yellow sweaters and representing FMI, said this is the second year they have participated in the Super Market Sweep.
"I was a member of it last year and I made Andrea do it," Maxwell said.
"It's a great cause and this definitely helps out the people in the community," Koppang said.
Maxwell and Koppang's strategy was to split up and cover more ground during the shopping race.
"We're lucky that we're not handcuffed together," Maxwell said with a laugh.
Louis McLeod, executive director of the Minot Area Homeless Coalition, said when the Young Professionals came to him four years ago about doing something to help, he said he didn't want to do an event with a narrow focus. Rather, he wanted to do something to help a number of different organizations, which is exactly what the Super Market Sweep does.
"It really does my heart good, as the CEO of the homeless coalition who's a spokesperson for people in need who are homeless, or are about to become homeless, or just have basic needs, to see young people take and interest in doing something in their community that has an impact to a lot of people," McLeod said.
He noted food pantries in Minot and the surrounding areas will benefit greatly from the donated food, and it was important to him that the pantries outside of Minot were helped, as their need is just as great as those within the city limits.
"That's what we want done. We want individuals to understand that we are a community who supports the surrounding areas," McLeod said.
McLeod said the population has jumped more than anyone could have guessed in the past few years, and the need for food is not dwindling in the least. He noted if someone had asked him three years ago if he could see the influx of people and need we have currently, he would have told them no.
"And the bad thing about it is I don't know when (the need for food is) going to start to spiral down. It appears we are maintaining that cliff up here, but we're not spiraling down," McLeod said. "To me, that's a scary situation. I'm really worried that if the influx continues, our poor city will not have the resources to continue to make a difference. So things like this (fundraiser) are very important."
After the teams jostled with one another in the aisles and brought their items to the checkouts to be tallied, Jersey Benson and Fred Beuchler of First Western Bank & Trust were declared the winners with $179.89, while the Velva MOPS team of Kendra Larsen and Melissa Selzler came in second with $163. In a bad bit of luck, Samantha Maxwell and Andrea Koppang of FMI went all of $1.56 over the $200 limit to be disqualified.
In total, the five teams raised around $4,200 in food. While they didn't break the total from last year, Meyer was more than pleased with the result. She was thankful to Marketplace Foods for allowing them the use of the store, and for also supplying gift cards for all the teams, many of which were given right back to McLeod for the homeless coalition.
"I just think it was a great year, $4,200 can go a very long way with these food pantries," Meyer said. "All four of them are going to get a lot of product, which is amazing."