As we entered Cookie Cart, the scent of Heaven surrounded us. I am not exaggerating when I say that we could taste the air. While I was expecting to enjoy learning about Cookie Cart, its cookies and its mission, I was blown away by how much fun we all had.
This summer, Anne and I and our kid-crews gallavanted to North Minneapolis to visit a little known gem of a bakery. The two of us sat down with Meggie McCauley–Sales and Community Outreach Manager–sipping our coffee provided by Caribou and munching on our freshly baked cookies while our kids were mesmerized by the bakery activity they saw through the picture window.
1119 W. Broadway Ave.
Minneapolis, MN 55411
Cookie Cart was started in the late 80’s by Sister Jean Thuerauf who invited kids into her home to bake cookies and work on homework. It’s a well-loved story that at one point there was an entire gang on her doorstep. With the popularity, her kitchen soon grew too small. Holy Name Church in Medina purchased the first bakery located on Emerson Avenue, and in 1996 Cookie Cart moved to its current location on W. Broadway–just off of I-94.
In the beginning, the kids would bake cookies and sell them on the streets. When the traffic light turned red, the kids would run out to the cars hocking their treats. That practice has since stopped. Cookie Cart’s storefront is especially helpful as is the kitchen renovation that took place one year ago.
If you need more convincing, I’ll give you five reasons
- Fresh baked cookies–-Daily flavors include chocolate chip, chocolate chocolate chip, snickerdoodles, coconut toffee, gingersnap, peanut butter, m&m. They also carry seasonal flavors; this fall is pumpkin spice.
- Building into the community of North Minneapolis–In the news, we hear a lot about the terrible tragedies happening in North Minneapolis. Cookie Cart’s mission is not to go in and save people out of it. Instead, they “build in neighborhoods of need,” to strengthen the community and foster change from the inside out.
- Youth development–Cookie Cart is excited to offer more than a part time job for teens. Every teen who participates must have a 2.0 GPA and they must take four core classes to continue employment. They include a class on customer service, a class about financial literacy and a class about the ins and outs of having a job called 360 degrees. They also work for their National Career Readiness Certification which is based onanother class. Some of the classes are taught by the full time staff and some are taught by the donors.
- Profitable non-profit--Cookie Cart has an interesting business model. They are a 501c, but not all their funding comes from donations. 1/3 comes from cookie sales, 1/3 is from corporate grants, and the last third is donations. Some of their most invested donors are Cargill, United Sugar, Watkins, Land O Lakes, Michael’s Food. These businesses donate most of the ingredients Cookie Cart uses including the flour, sugar, vanilla, eggs, chocolate, salt, shortening, and butter. So the profits from the cookies are able to pay the baking staff. And we can’t forget to mention Caribou’s coffee donation as well.
- Growing Business–The organization has 18 full time and part time office staff. But most importantly throughout any given year, Cookie Cart employs 200 teens. Two hundred teens that have a hand in baking, boxing, and selling their cookies, catering and filling orders.
We love Cookie Cart–the cookies, the mission, the heart and the grassroots way to impact a community. You won’t be disappointed using your money in this place.
Cookie Cart has many opportunities to volunteer as well–for adults and kids. They will be a part of the Great Give Back Challenge. Stay tuned for more information coming for November.