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Gobble Gait and BrainPower in a BackPack are named runners up

the open door winners

The Open Door was the 2020 winner of the Touchstone Energy Community Award. Executive Director Jason Viana (2nd from L) and Annie Gentilini, Communications & Events Coordinator, are shown in front of their fresh food produce cases with Dakota Electric directors (L-R) Jerry Pittman and Clay Van De Bogart.

Dakota Electric Association named The Open Door, Eagan, as the local 2020 Touchstone Energy Community Award winner. Gobble Gait, Hastings Family Service and BrainPower in a BackPack were named runners-up, and each of the non-profits received a plaque and a check for $500.

“Dakota Electric is proud to be able to recognize these organizations doing great work in our local communities,” said Greg Miller, Dakota Electric’s president and chief executive officer. “As a member-owned cooperative, we are committed to our local communities and this is one way we encourage and honor those who are like-minded.”

The Open Door is a hunger relief organization dedicated to ending local hunger through access to healthy food. The Open Door has grown from a closet in a church to the largest food shelf in Dakota County, providing fresh and healthy food to more than 14,000 people each month (7,000 people per month before COVID-19 hit) through a combination of innovative programs.

Brainpower award winners

BrainPower in a BackPack was a runner up of the 2020 Touchstone Energy Community Award. Shown here with students packing food in the background is coordinator Pam Voigt with Dakota Electric directors (L-R) Jerry Pittman and Clay Van De Bogart.

Gobble Gait, Hastings is now one of the state’s largest Thanksgiving races. The money raised is donated to Hastings Family Service to help people with basic needs like food, shelter, clothing and transportation, and since the race started in 1998, it has raised more than $1.3 million. BrainPower in a BackPack, Burnsville, is a community service project that has high school student volunteers packing backpacks of food for students in middle school, elementary school and preschool who are from families that can use the help. Each week, more than 800 students are provided with food.

The Touchstone Energy Community Award recognizes organizations for outstanding contributions to the local community.

gobble gait award winners

Gobble Gate was a runner up of the 2020 Touchstone Energy Community Award. Shown here in front of Hastings Family Service thrift store are Gobble Gait organizers and Hastings Family Service staff and a board member (L-R): Mike Swanson (board member), Amy Sutton (Associate Director), Judy Kimmes (Dakota Electric board member), Mary Fasbender (organizer), Jay Kochendorfer (organizer) and Chris Koop (Executive Director).

The Open Door award application will be submitted to the statewide Minnesota Touchstone Energy Community Award. The statewide award recipient will be selected from local award winners throughout Minnesota and will receive $1,000. The Minnesota Touchstone Energy Community Award will be announced in March, during the Minnesota Rural Electric Association’s annual meeting in St. Paul.