Izzy’s Scoops Ice Cream Donations for Struggling Minnesotans
The signature Izzy’s Scoop atop a cone. Photo courtesy of Izzy’s Ice Cream

Izzy’s Scoops Ice Cream Donations for Struggling Minnesotans

Despite its own business challenges due to Covid-19, the popular hometown brand is giving $42,000 worth of ice cream to Second Harvest Heartland and hopes to double it.

When the going gets tough, ice cream makes things just a little bit better. No one knows that better than the owners of Izzy’s Ice Cream. Just weeks after shuttering both of their local ice cream shops to shore up Izzy’s wholesale operation, husband and wife team Jeff Sommers and Lara Hammel are donating more than $42,000 worth of ice cream to local food shelves with the help of Second Harvest Heartland.

“We are trying to bring not just food and education to the emergency food system but joy and dignity,” Sommers said. “It is hard to be in need. It is hard to reach out for help. And it is hard to receive help. At Izzy’s we bring people together—the ice cream brings people together. As a community, we need to make it happen.”

More than 5,000 cups of Izzy’s ice cream will be distributed to Minnesota’s emergency food network through Second Harvest Heartland, which reports record high demand for assistance since the Covid-19 outbreak. The organization is preparing for especially difficult times late this summer when temporary federal benefits expire for thousands of Minnesota families, said Second Harvest CEO Allison O’Toole. Second Harvest is working around the clock to distribute emergency food boxes and mobilize Minnesota Central Kitchen to distribute prepared to-go meals.

“Izzy’s Ice Cream is just the latest Minnesota company to step up during this time of need,” O’Toole said in a statement. “Every way we can tackle hunger is critical and finding a way to bring the joy of ice cream to hungry Minnesotan’s shows the spirit of our state during these times.”

Izzy’s Ice Cream founders Jeff Sommers and Lara Hammel

Founded with a neighborhood shop on Marshall Avenue in St. Paul, Izzy’s marks its 20th anniversary on July 29. It’s not quite the celebration Sommers and Hammel had been planning—they recently expanded manufacturing in anticipation of taking the brand national this year. Locally, grocery sales remain strong—Sommers credits Minnesotans who make a point to shop local brands. Minneapolis-based Pizza Luce is planning a big push for Izzy’s on Sunday, which is National Ice Cream Day. And nationwide, direct to consumer shipping is now up and running and gaining traction. Sommers said orders are coming in everywhere from Pennsylvania to California.

But knowing that one in eight Minnesotans will face hunger this year prompted Sommers and Hammel to look beyond their own ledger to give back, and rally their network to help double the effort. A donation button has been added to the Izzy’s website and the company is asking customers to “put that little extra something into the emergency food system: ice cream.”

“We each have gifts; ours happens to be ice cream and we really like to lean into our strengths,” Sommers said. “We hope to inspire and generate lots of donations: our friends at Second Harvest have the systems, the expertise and the grit to meet the challenges ahead, especially if the community gets involved and puts a little extra into it each day.”

Hear the Izzy’s founding story on our podcast By All Means