Wayne Kostroski didn’t set out to found an event that would fund 25 million meals. A local restauranteur since 1980, Kostroski toured a St. Paul food bank in 1985, was struck by the need and realized that he was in a position to help.
Tapping food industry connections in 1992 for Super Bowl XXVI in Minnesota, Kostroski worked with former Vikings players Scott Studwell and Bob Lurtsema to create the first Taste of the NFL, pairing renowned chefs and NFL players in each of the NFL cities. The premier event became nationally recognized as a “party with a purpose.” For 29 years, every dollar raised has gone to hunger related charities. Recently, Kostroski added Taste Fore the Tour (during the 3M Open) which raised enough money for more than one million meals through the work of VEAP (Volunteers Enlisted to Assist People).
In 2010, Kostroski was awarded the James Beard Humanitarian Award. This hometown philanthropist believes even small acts of kindness can make a significant difference in people’s lives. Even as he helps plan the 12th annual Let’s Kick Hunger Day Radiothon event with WCCO, and his team strategizes a new hunger initiative—a Chef’s Table virtual culinary event, with proceeds headed to local food banks—he talks about his hope that people will be inspired to find their own passion for community giving.
Kostroski credits his Edina neighbors and friends who volunteer their time and talents: Ben Leber, Michele Tafoya, Andrew Zimmern, Carly Zucker, Gavin Kaysen, Mark Haugen, and Beth Webert, to name just a few. “We live in a truly remarkable community, with so many people who have heart, soul, and a passion to do something for others,” says Kostroski.
To volunteer, visit hungerrelatedevents.org.
Contributed by the Edina Community Foundation; edinacommunityfoundation.org