• BEYOND BREAD TO THE BREAD OF LIFE. BEYOND OURSELVES TO CHRIST.

Our Mission

Rooted in God's loving grace, Community Emergency Service transforms lives by serving neighbors, sharing resources and becoming community

Founded in 1971 by Pastor William Berg, CES originally functioned as an outreach of Augustana Lutheran Church to offer critical aid to Minneapolis residents. Decades later, it stands as a fully independent, expanded nonprofit with the largest Meals on Wheels program in the state.


Based in the most ethnically diverse neighborhood in Minneapolis, CES staff and volunteers are on the frontlines of providing food, hope, and compassion to our multi-generational, multi-cultural, low-income clientele. We strive to serve our neighbors in need without distinction or test, with dignity and understanding.

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Our Vision

CES meets hunger where it is a critical need, on client's food shelves with Home Delivery to the homebound and Meals on Wheels to seniors. CES fosters community among its clients, because a strong community is the best hope for sustainable relief from hunger and poverty. CES partners with other community-based services that aid clients in building a foundation for stability and independence.

Our Values

We operate in a neighborhood that is culturally, ethnically and religiously diverse. We strive to serve all our neighbors in need, as Christ would have us do, without distinction or test. We invite support from volunteers and donors and are open to collaboration with other agencies, regardless of religious affiliation.

We are a community.

As people of deep faith we long for a day when no one is living without hope or health and so we dedicate ourselves to wholeness in each individual - wholeness of body, mind and spirit. When caring people come together to serve one another, there exists a Sacred Community.

We respect the dignity of each of person.

Our clients are our neighbors and they deserve our unconditional love and acceptance, as we seek to earn theirs.

We are servants.

We provide food to our hungry neighbors; we provide hope, encouragement and a caring human presence. We seek to serve in a Christ-like manner all that come to CES in need of physical, emotional or spiritual sustenance.

We are stewards.

We are good stewards of the opportunity that has been given to us to enrich our own lives and the lives of others through generous service and the spiritual connection that binds all children of God.

We are good neighbors.

We seek to collaborate with other organizations and individuals in our greater community that we may better provide a network of support for our neighbors in need, empowering them on their journey toward self-sufficiency and independence.

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Our History

Inspired by the vision of Pastor William Berg and the philanthropy of Russell Lund, Sr. of Lund’s Foods, Community Emergency Service (CES) was organized in 1971 as an outreach ministry of Augustana Lutheran Church of Minneapolis

Mr. Russell Lund, a prominent Minneapolis businessman, civic leader and churchman, saw a need for a more hands-on kind of social service ministry. He asked Pastor Berg at Augustana Lutheran Church this question: “For many years, I have been giving to organizations engaged in social service. Is there a way to give financial aid with a personal touch and to deal with people on a one-to-one basis? “

Pastor Bill Berg responded that they wanted to reach out more effectively to the community, “You are surely sent from our Lord. A give-away program without the personal touch can be demeaning. The gift without the giver is bare.”

Russell Lund gave a gift of $5,600 and Community Emergency Service was started.

A Legacy Continues

On that memorable day, Community Emergency Service was inaugurated. In the three-month summer experiment, 300 persons received—not only food and financial help—but also counseling and referral service in 750 sessions conducted by a three-member staff.

Russell Lund’s original gift of $5,600 in 1971 grew into a total contribution of a half-million dollars over a twelve year period. He often expressed the hope that his gifts would serve as seed-money, inspiring others to give. When his health failed and he was no longer able to take part, his hope was fulfilled as many rose up to meet the need.

The competence and commitment of the staff played an important part in the launching of this program. John Bohnsack, the first director in 1971, was a senior at Luther-Northwestern Seminary in St. Paul. He and his wife Barbara were serving on the Augustana Staff. In 1971, Kay Jurgenson, an English and Drama teacher in the Richfield High School and Patricia Ellefson, former Vista worker and nurse, also served on the original CES Staff.

Pastor Bohnsack (left) & Pastor Berg (right) receive money for CES

Staff in the Early Years

The competence and commitment of the staff played an important part in the launching of this program. John Bohnsack, the first director in 1971, was a senior at Luther-Northwestern Seminary in St. Paul. He and his wife Barbara were serving on the Augustana Staff. In 1971, Kay Jurgenson, an English and Drama teacher in the Richfield High School and Patricia Ellefson, former Vista worker and nurse, also served on the original CES Staff.

Destiny Continues

The Augustana Church Council provided solid support for the CES Ministry, in terms of facilities, staff and volunteer support as a social ministry under the cross—motivated by our Savior’s self-giving, healing and restoring love. Hopefully, His presence will always be felt at CES as His words are remembered, “. . . as you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me.”

With that foundation at its beginning, CES staff and volunteers have treated each person who steps through their doors as an individual with whom they want to build a relationship of mutual trust.

New Name & FEIN

As of October 2012, CES has its own 501(c)(3) status as Community Emergency Service, Inc. which was previously under Augustana Lutheran Church(ALC). An ongoing active relationship continues with ALC. Community Emergency Service, Inc. was reorganized under the 501(c)(3) of CES of Minneapolis, which was created by CES in 1997 to help meet our emergency assistance goals by allowing us to receive funds from organizations that could not give to religious organizations. During the reorganizing of our new Articles of Incorporation, the name change to Community Emergency Service, Inc. was adopted. With its new status, CES’ fiscal year changed from January 1 through December 31 to April 1 through March 31.