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The Largest Selection of Wholesale Mediterranean and Middle Eastern Products in Minneapolis

When it comes to trying new, exciting cuisine, few foods hit the spot like a deliciously fresh Mediterranean meal. However, we know that it can be very difficult to find authentic Mediterranean grocery wholesalers in Minneapolis, MN. Having lived in metro Atlanta for years, we realized that our customers needed an easy way to find quality wholesale Middle Eastern and Mediterranean food in bulk. That is why we created Nazareth Grocery Mediterranean Market - to give everyone a chance to enjoy tasty, healthy food, desserts, and authentic Mediterranean gifts at wholesale prices.

Founded in 2009, Nazareth Grocery has become one of Minneapolis's leading international wholesale grocery stores. We are very proud to serve our customers and do everything in our power to give them the largest selection of high-quality wholesale goods available.

If you're looking for the freshest, most delicious Middle Eastern wholesale products and ingredients, you will find them here at the best prices in the state. We encourage you to swing by our store in Marietta to see our selection for yourself. We think that you will be impressed!

The Nazareth Difference

At Nazareth Grocery Mediterranean Market, our mission is simple: bring you and your family the largest selection of wholesale Mediterranean products in Minneapolis. When coupled with our helpful, friendly staff and authentic Middle Eastern atmosphere, it's easy to see why we are the top Middle Eastern grocery wholesaler in Minneapolis, MN. We're proud to carry just about every kind of Mediterranean and Middle Eastern product that you can think of, from prepared meals and hookahs to fine seasonings and sweets. We're here for our customers and want each one of them to have a unique, one-of-a-kind experience when they shop with us.

Our loyal customers love our selection of the following wholesale foods and gifts:

  • Fresh Breads
  • OlivesOlives
  • HummusHummus
  • CheesesCheeses
  • SaucesSauces
  • Savory-FoodsSavory Foods
  • DessertsDesserts
  • DrinksDrinks
  • HookahsHookahs
  • TobaccoTobacco
  • SaucesGifts
  • Much More!Much More!

Our Service Areas

Most Popular Wholesale Mediterranean Foods

There is so much more to Mediterranean food than pizza and pasta. The perfect climate combined with delicious foods and amazing wine makes the Mediterranean incredibly irresistible. That's why our customers absolutely love to buy this kind of cuisine in bulk. Every country in this region has its own set of specialties and delicacies, each with its own flavors and styles of preparation.

Mediterranean countries include:

  • France
  • Greece
  • Italy
  • Turkey
  • Syria
  • Egypt
  • Israel
  • Libya
  • Morocco
  • Tunisia
  • Spain
Mediterranean Grocery Minneapolis, MN

So, when it comes to the most popular wholesale Mediterranean products in Minneapolis,
what are we talking about?

 Mediterranean Supermarkets Minneapolis, MN

Feta Cheese

Feta cheese is a classic Mediterranean dairy product that is often enjoyed on its own, in Greek salads, on bread, or mixed with zucchini. Depending on where the feta is sourced and produced, the cheese can be made from cow, sheep, or goat milk, or even a combination of the three. Regardless of the animal it comes from, this delicious cheese is a crowd favorite.

 Mediterranean Grocery Store Minneapolis, MN

Baba Ganoush

This Levantine dish is one of the most well-known Mediterranean dishes to eat in the United States. It typically comes in the form of a dip, served with pita or another kind of dipping bread. Commonly served before dinner as an appetizer of sorts, it usually features tahini, eggplant, garlic, spices, and sometimes yogurt. This tasty cuisine works great as a spread on a sandwich, or you can even eat it with a spoon, all on its own.

 Middle Eastern Grocery Minneapolis, MN

Baklava

If you have never tried authentic baklava before, get ready to have your mind blown. This dessert is a traditional Mediterranean food that will have your taste buds craving more and more. Once you open a box of baklava from our Mediterranean grocery wholesaler in Minneapolis, MN, you won't want to stop eating! Baklava is made with layers of thin filo dough, which is layered together, filled with chopped nuts (think pistachios), and sealed with honey or syrup. Baklava is so good that its origins are debated, leaving many wondering which country invented the dessert. Everyone from the Turks to the Greeks and even Middle Easterners hold unique takes on baklava. Try each one to discover your favorite!

Most Popular Wholesale Middle Eastern Foods

Fresh, healthy, aromatic, rich: it's no wonder that the popularity of Middle Eastern cuisine and products has skyrocketed in the United States. This genre of cuisine features a large variety of foods, from Halvah to Labneh. If there were one common theme throughout all Middle Eastern food, it would be the bright, vibrant herbs and spices that are used. These flavorings help create rich, complex flavors that foodies fawn over. Typically, Middle Eastern food is piled high for all to eat, with enough food for an entire republic to put down.

 Mediterranean Food Stores Minneapolis, MN

Tabbouleh

This refreshing, healthy dish is chock-full of greens, herbs, tomatoes, and bulgur (or cracked wheat), creating a memorable, bold flavor. This dish may be eaten on its own or paired with a shawarma sandwich or helping of falafel. It's best to buy your ingredients in bulk to make this dish because it tastes best freshly made with family around to enjoy. Just be sure to bring a toothpick to the tabbouleh party - you're almost certain to have some leafy greens stuck in your teeth after eating.

 Middle Eastern Market Minneapolis, MN

Shawarma

We mentioned shawarma above, and for good reason - this dish is enjoyed by men and women around the world, and of course, right here in the U.S. Except for falafel, this might be the most popular Middle Eastern food item in history. Shawarma is kind of like a Greek gyro, with slow-roasted meat stuffed in laffa with veggies and sauce. The blend of spices and the smoky meat mix together to create a tangy, meaty flavor that you will want to keep eating for hours. For western-style shawarma, try using beef or chicken. For a more traditional meal, try using lamb from our Middle Eastern grocery distributor in Minneapolis, MN.

 Greek Grocery Store Minneapolis, MN

Hummus

Traditionally used as a dip meant for fresh pita, hummus is a combo of chickpeas, garlic, and tahini, blended together until silky, smooth, and creamy. You can find hummus in just about any appetizer section of a Middle Eastern restaurant menu. That's because it's considered a staple of Middle Eastern food that can be enjoyed by itself, as a spread, or with fresh-baked pita bread. Hummus is also very healthy, making it a no-brainer purchase from our grocery store.

Benefits of Eating a Mediterranean Diet

If there's one diet that is most well-known for its health benefits, it has got to be the Mediterranean diet. In 2019, U.S. News & World Report listed the Mediterranean diet as No. 1 on its best over diet list. This incredible diet has been cited to help with weight loss, brain health, heart health, diabetes prevention, and cancer prevention.

Whether you already love Mediterranean food or you're looking to make some positive changes in your life, this "diet" is for you. Eating cuisine like Greek food, Persian food, Turkish food, and Italian food is healthy and tastes great. Even better than that? At Nazareth Wholesale Grocery, we have many staples of the Mediterranean diet for sale in bulk so that you can stock up on your favorites at the best prices around.

So, what exactly is the Mediterranean diet?

It is a way of eating that incorporates traditional Greek, Italian, and other Mediterranean cultures' foods. These foods are often plant-based and make up the foundation of the diet, along with olive oil. Fish, seafood, dairy, and poultry are also included in moderation. Red meat and sweets are only eaten in moderation, not in abundance. Mediterranean food includes many forms of nuts, fruits, vegetables, fish, seeds, and more. Of course, you can find at them all at our wholesale Mediterranean grocery store!

Here are just a few of the many benefits of eating a healthy Mediterranean diet:

Reduced Risk of Heart Disease

Reduced Risk
of Heart Disease

Many studies have been conducted on this diet, many of which report that Mediterranean food is excellent for your heart. Some of the most promising evidence comes from a randomized clinical trial published in 2013. For about five years, researchers followed 7,000 men and women around the country of Spain. These people had type 2 diabetes or were at a high risk for cardiovascular disease. Participants in the study who ate an unrestricted Mediterranean diet with nuts and extra-virgin olive oil were shown to have a 30% lower risk of heart events.

Reduced Risk of Stroke for Women

Reduced Risk
of Stroke for Women

In addition to the heart-healthy benefits of a Mediterranean diet, studies have shown that eating healthy Mediterranean and Middle Eastern foods can reduce the chances of stroke in women. The study was conducted in the U.K., which included women between the ages of 40 and 77. Women who stuck to the Mediterranean diet showed a lower risk of having a stroke - especially women who were at high risk of having one.

Benefits of Eating a Mediterranean Diet

First and foremost, purchase your Mediterranean and Middle Eastern wholesale foods from Nazareth Grocery - we're always updating our inventory! Getting started on this healthy, delicious diet is easy.

Try these tips:

Try these tips

1.

Instead of unhealthy sweets like candy and ice cream, try eating fresh fruit instead. It's refreshing, tasty, and often packed with great vitamins and nutrients.

2.

Try eating fish twice a week, in lieu of red meat. Fish is much healthier and doesn't have the unfortunate side effects of red meat, like inflammation.

3.

Try planning out your meals using beans, whole grains, and veggies. Don't start with meats and sweets.

4.

They're tasty, but try to avoid processed foods completely.

5.

Instead of using butter to flavor your food, use extra virgin olive oil instead. Olive oil contains healthy fats and tastes great too.

6.

Try to get more exercise and get out of the house. The Mediterranean lifestyle is an active one, best enjoyed in the beautiful sunshine when possible.

Why Buy Mediterranean and Middle Eastern Products Wholesale?

Buying wholesale and retail are quite different. When you buy products from a wholesaler, you're essentially buying from the middleman between a retail establishment and the manufacturer. Wholesale purchases are almost always made in bulk. Because of that, buyers pay a discounted price. That's great for normal buyers and great for business owners, who can sell those products to profit. This higher price is called the retail price, and it is what traditional customers pay when they enter a retail store.

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 Middle Eastern Store Minneapolis, MN

Latest News in Minneapolis, MN

Game 2: Minnesota vs. Western Illinois

THE ESSENTIALS Date/Time: Sept. 10, 2022 / 11 a.m. CTSite: MinneapolisStadium: Huntington Bank StadiumSurface: FieldTurfCapacity: 50,805Series Overall: Minnesota Leads 1-0Streak: Minnesota Won 1Series in MN: Minnesota Leads 1-0Streak: Minnesota Won 1Last Meeting: Minnesota won 29-12 in Minneapolis (9/14/13)Television: BTN // Jason Ross, Jr. (PXP), Brock Ver...

THE ESSENTIALS Date/Time: Sept. 10, 2022 / 11 a.m. CTSite: MinneapolisStadium: Huntington Bank StadiumSurface: FieldTurfCapacity: 50,805Series Overall: Minnesota Leads 1-0Streak: Minnesota Won 1Series in MN: Minnesota Leads 1-0Streak: Minnesota Won 1Last Meeting: Minnesota won 29-12 in Minneapolis (9/14/13)Television: BTN // Jason Ross, Jr. (PXP), Brock Vereen (Analyst), Michelle McMahon (Reporter)Radio: KFAN | SiriusXM: 133 or 195 | SXM App: 957 // Mike Grimm (PXP), Darrell Thompson (Analyst), Justin Gaard (Reporter), Tanner Hoops (Host), Dan Rowbotham (Engineer)

FIVE THINGS TO KNOW 1. The University of Minnesota football team continues the non-conference portion of its schedule Saturday as it hosts Western Illinois at Huntington Bank Stadium. Kickoff is scheduled for 11 a.m. with a national TV audience on BTN.

2. Minnesota is coming off of a 38-0 win over New Mexico State in the team's season opener on Sept. 1. It was the first home shutout for the Gophers since a 62-0 win over Temple on Sept. 16, 2006. It was also the first shutout in a season opener for Minnesota since it opened that same 2006 campaign with a 44-0 triumph at Kent State. Coupled with a 30-0 shutout at Colorado last year, Minnesota joins Georgia (3), Penn State (2), Texas A&M (2), Virginia (2) and Wisconsin (2) as the only Power 5 programs with multiple shutouts since the start of the 2021 season.

3. Minnesota's defense put up some truly impressive numbers in the opener against New Mexico State. The Aggies were held to only 33 plays on the night, the fewest ever by a Minnesota opponent. The previous mark was 40, set by Nebraska in 1960 and matched by Middle Tennessee State in 2010. NMSU gained 91 yards (53 passing, 38 rushing), the fewest by an FBS team so far this season. The Golden Gophers also held the Aggies to just six first downs, matching the fewest allowed in the P.J. Fleck era (two off the modern school record) and the lowest total in the FBS this year. 4. Playing in his first game since suffering a season-ending injury in the 2021 opener, Mohamed Ibrahim picked up right where he left off as he extended his school record to 10 straight games with at least 100 yards rushing, the longest active streak in the country. Ibrahim, who reached the milestone in the first half and did not play beyond the team's opening drive of the second half, finished with 21 rushes for 132 yards and two touchdowns, his 11th career multi-touchdown game. His two rushing touchdowns gave him 35 for his career, tying the late Marion Barber III for second-most all-time at Minnesota.

5. The 2022 campaign is the sixth for head coach P.J. Fleck at Minnesota, where he holds a record of 36-23. He is already sixth in program history for wins and Big Ten wins (21), and seventh in games coached (59). His .610 win percentage is third best among the 11 Minnesota coaches with at least 45 games under their helm behind only Henry L. Williams (.786, 1900-21) and Bernie Bierman (.716, 1932-41, '45-50). Through his first five years at Minnesota, only Williams (55, 1900-04) had more wins than Fleck's 35. In his 10th season overall as a college head coach, Fleck is 66-45 (.595).

You can read Minnesota's complete game notes here.

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Coach Fleck Previews Western Illinois

Coach Fleck Previews Western Illinois

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University of Minnesota awarded nearly $22M to lead two Energy Frontier Research Centers

The University of Minnesota is one of only a few select institutions awarded two U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Energy Frontier Research Centers (EFRCs).Over four years, the Center for Interacting Geo-Processes in Mineral Carbon Storage will receive $11 million and the Center for Programmable Energy Catalysis will receive $10.6 million.The awards are part of a $540 million initiative by the DOE to invest in clean energy technologies and low-carbon manufacturing to help the U.S. achieve net-zero emissions by 2050. The DOE has f...

The University of Minnesota is one of only a few select institutions awarded two U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Energy Frontier Research Centers (EFRCs).

Over four years, the Center for Interacting Geo-Processes in Mineral Carbon Storage will receive $11 million and the Center for Programmable Energy Catalysis will receive $10.6 million.

The awards are part of a $540 million initiative by the DOE to invest in clean energy technologies and low-carbon manufacturing to help the U.S. achieve net-zero emissions by 2050. The DOE has funded new centers at 54 universities and 11 national labs across the country. The U of M is one of only six institutions that received funding for two EFRCs.

Center for Interacting Geo-Processes in Mineral Carbon Storage The Center for Interacting Geo-Processes in Mineral Carbon Storage will bring together engineers and scientists from five internationally renowned organizations to study and improve the process of carbon mineralization, a promising means of permanently storing carbon dioxide in geologic formations.

If successful, the work from this center has the potential to make this process widely applicable and even reverse some effects of climate change.

“We are excited about this project because it will allow us to hopefully make a significant impact on climate change,” said Emmanuel Detournay, project director, principal investigator and professor of rock mechanics in the U of M College of Science and Engineering.

U of M scientists and engineers will lead a work group with colleagues from the University of Southampton, Georgia Institute of Technology, Northwestern University and Los Alamos National Laboratory. Other U of M faculty include Peter Kang, Bojan Guzina, Joseph Labuz, Jia-Liang Le, Sonia Mogilevskaya and Vaughan Voller.

Center for Programmable Energy Catalysis Researchers at the Center for Programmable Energy Catalysis will focus on transforming how catalysts convert energy-rich molecules in chemical reactions, ultimately leading to enhancements in rate, selectivity and conversion of those reactions.

The researchers aim to find a way to more efficiently convert low-cost renewable power to carbon-free liquid fuels, which could lead to 100% implementation of renewable power technologies such as wind turbines and solar photovoltaics.

"Financial support by the U.S. Department of Energy will enable the creation of an entirely new catalyst technology that achieves higher reaction rates and better reaction control for the most important chemistries required to address climate change,” said Paul Dauenhauer, project director and a professor in the College of Science and Engineering.

U of M scientists and engineers will lead a work group with colleagues from the University of California, Santa Barbara, the University of Michigan, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Clemson University, the University of Houston and the University of Massachusetts Amherst. Other U of M faculty include Daniel Frisbie, Matthew Neurock, Aditya Bhan, Bharat Jalan and Renee Frontiera.

-30-

About the College of Science and Engineering The University of Minnesota College of Science and Engineering brings together the University’s programs in engineering, physical sciences, mathematics and computer science into one college. The college is ranked among the top academic programs in the country and includes 12 academic departments offering a wide range of degree programs at the baccalaureate, master's, and doctoral levels. Learn more at cse.umn.edu.

Minnesota Unveils Full 2022-23 Schedule

MINNEAPOLIS – The fifth season for Minnesota women's basketball under head coach Lindsay Whalen begins October 30 and features 29 regular season games, including 17 games at Williams Arena, it was announced Wednesday.Tipoff times, TV/streaming coverage, a promotions schedule and single-game tickets will all be announced at later dates. Fans can guarantee their seats to all of the team's home games by ...

MINNEAPOLIS – The fifth season for Minnesota women's basketball under head coach Lindsay Whalen begins October 30 and features 29 regular season games, including 17 games at Williams Arena, it was announced Wednesday.

Tipoff times, TV/streaming coverage, a promotions schedule and single-game tickets will all be announced at later dates. Fans can guarantee their seats to all of the team's home games by purchasing season tickets on GopherSports.com.

Following an exhibition game against the University of Wisconsin-River Falls on October 30, the second straight season with an exhibition game, the 2022-23 campaign gets underway on Nov. 7 with a home matchup against Western Illinois.

Minnesota will remain home for a Nov. 13 matchup against Lehigh before hitting the road for the first time with North Dakota State University of Nov. 17. Minnesota follows that by welcoming in Presbyterian (Nov. 20) before departing for a tournament in Virginia where the Gophers will take on Liberty and the University of Virginia.

The Virginia Tournament will kick off a stretch where the Gophers will take on a number of Power 5 opponents in succession with a matchup with Wake Forest on Dec. 1, being the next game on the schedule. For the second straight year the Maroon and Gold will host the B1G/ACC Challenge after hosting UNC last season.

Continuing with the 2021-22 format, this season's conference schedule will once again begin before wrapping up non-conference contests. The first Big Ten matchup will be against Penn State at home on Dec. 3. Minnesota continues its run against Power 5 teams with Kentucky, who made the 2022 NCAA Tournament, coming to the Barn on Dec. 7.

Before returning to non-conference play the Gophers will have to travel to Carver-Hawkeye Arena on Dec. 10 to take on defending Big Ten Champion Iowa. Minnesota's non-conference schedule ends with three-straight home games against Chicago State (Dec. 12), the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee (Dec. 14) and Eastern Illinois (Dec. 22).

League play resumes on Dec. 30 for Minnesota with a trip to College Park to take on Maryland, which will be one of eight matchups throughout the season against teams who made the 2022 NCAA Tournament.

Minnesota returns home to host the Buckeyes, who were co-Big Ten regular season champions last season, on Jan. 5 to ring in the new year before heading back on the road for a Border Battle matchup with Wisconsin on Jan. 8.

The Maroon and Gold will play two straight Big Ten home games when Rutgers and Illinois come to town on Jan. 12 and Jan. 15. Following that will be a pair of road tests with the Gophers first rematch of the season against Penn State on Jan. 18, followed by a game against the Boilermakers of Purdue on Jan. 21.

Two tough matchups at home will follow that road trip with Michigan (Jan. 29) and Indiana (Feb. 2) coming to Williams Arena. The Gophers continue the trend of two games at home and two on the road with trips to Illinois (Feb. 5) and Ohio State (Feb. 8).

Wisconsin comes to the Barn for the Gophers turn to host the Border Battle on Feb. 11 followed by a home game against Nebraska on Feb. 15. Minnesota then heads to Northwestern (Feb. 18) and Michigan State (Feb. 22) for their final road tests before returning home ot take on Purdue in the regular season finale on Feb. 26.

The 2022 Big Ten Tournament is scheduled to be held in Minneapolis, Minn., March 1-5 at Target Center.

No. 20 Women's Volleyball Set for B1G/Pac-12 Challenge in Minneapolis

MINNESOTA, Minn. - The No. 20 Penn State women's volleyball team hopes to keep its winning streak alive against two ranked opponents at the Big Ten/ Pac-12 Challenge in Minnesota this weekend. The Nittany Lions open the event Friday at 6 p.m. (ET) with a match against No. 11 Stanford. They close the event against No. 18 Oregon Saturday at 5:30 p.m. (ET).Friday's match against Stanford will air nationally on Big Ten Network. Saturday's match will stream on B1G+.PENN STATE WEEKEND SCHEDULE ...

MINNESOTA, Minn. - The No. 20 Penn State women's volleyball team hopes to keep its winning streak alive against two ranked opponents at the Big Ten/ Pac-12 Challenge in Minnesota this weekend. The Nittany Lions open the event Friday at 6 p.m. (ET) with a match against No. 11 Stanford. They close the event against No. 18 Oregon Saturday at 5:30 p.m. (ET).

Friday's match against Stanford will air nationally on Big Ten Network. Saturday's match will stream on B1G+.

PENN STATE WEEKEND SCHEDULE Friday, Sept. 9 6 p.m. (ET) | vs. No. 11 Stanford | Big Ten Network

Saturday, Sept. 10 5:30 p.m. (ET) | vs. No. 18 Oregon | Watch

SERIES HISTORY - STANFORD • Stanford leads 14-12 in the all-time series thanks to wins in each of the past five meetings dating back to 2018. • Penn State's last two wins in the series both came in 2017 and both were played at neutral sites. • The Lions led 2-1 and had a chance at match point in the fourth set before eventually falling in five sets in last year's matchup. The match was played at Oregon.

SERIES HISTORY - OREGON • The all-time series between Penn State and Oregon is tied at 3-3. • The Ducks won last season's matchup in three sets on their home floor. • The Lions won the previous two matchups in 2018 and 2019.

SCOUTING STANFORD • The Cardinal enter the weekend after being swept by No. 1 Texas Sunday, but have plenty of statement wins including a five-set thriller against No. 13 Florida. • Senior Kendall Kipp leads the team with 55 kills on the season. Sophomore Sami Francis looks to follow up All-Pac-12 Freshman Team honors with a strong start to the season as she has totaled 32 kills and a .474 kill percentage.

SCOUTING OREGON • The Ducks went 2-0 at the Oregon Invitational, including a five-set test against Rice and are now unbeaten at 4-0 on the season. • Oregon outside hitter Mimi Coyler has earned Pac-12 Freshman of the Week honors for the second time in as many weeks after tallying 21 kills on 30 tries against UC Davis. She added four digs and two aces for a weekend total of 33 kills, 15 digs and three aces. • Coyler is complemented by outside hitter senior Brooke Nuneviller who leads the team with 64 kills.

LAST TIME OUT • Graduate student Seleisa Elisaia was named Big Ten Setter of the Week after averaging 12.40 assists/set and 1.70 digs/set in the Tiger Challenge as Penn State defeated Iowa State, Troy, and LSU. Elisaia leads the Big Ten in assists/set with 11.24 on the season. • Junior libero Maddy Bilinovic continued her strong 2022 campaign with a career-high 21 digs in a 3-0 Penn State sweep versus LSU. She has 90 digs and 22 assists on the season. •The Nittany Lions lost just one set in the Tiger Challenge this weekend. On the season they are 18-3 in sets.

UP NEXT • Penn State will play at home for the first time in two weeks when they host the Penn State Classic. They will face Howard on Friday night. Saturday, the Nittany Lions play UAlbany and Coastal Carolina.

‘Representation matters’: Burnsville elementary school welcomes Minnesota’s first female Somali American principal.

Half an hour before school buses start arriving, a Somali boy with braces is sitting in the principal’s office at Gideon Pond Elementary School in Burnsville. He’s not in trouble. He just arrived early; now he’s ready for the school day to begin.It’s his second year at the school, he explains, so the first-day jitters aren’t so bad.“Last year I was a little nervous,” he says.“I’m a little nervous, too,” confesses his principal, Salma Hussein.It’s Sa...

Half an hour before school buses start arriving, a Somali boy with braces is sitting in the principal’s office at Gideon Pond Elementary School in Burnsville. He’s not in trouble. He just arrived early; now he’s ready for the school day to begin.

It’s his second year at the school, he explains, so the first-day jitters aren’t so bad.

“Last year I was a little nervous,” he says.

“I’m a little nervous, too,” confesses his principal, Salma Hussein.

It’s Salma’s first day at Gideon Pond. She spent last year as an assistant principal for Central High School, in St. Paul; before that, she served as a social worker in Minneapolis Public Schools. Now, she’s the building leader in a new community. It’s her first day working in an elementary school setting, and her first day ever as principal.

Burnsville schools have quickly grown more diverse in recent years. State data show that 15 percent of all kids in the Burnsville–Eagan–Savage district now speak Somali at home. At Gideon Pond, 40 percent of students are Somali, Salma says.

But representation among teachers and administrators has lagged. In July 2020, Minnesota’s first two Somali public-school principals began their positions in St. Paul and Bloomington. A third Somali principal has since been hired in Minneapolis. In Burnsville, Salma has now joined the small but growing group. She believes she’s the only female Somali principal in Minnesota.

“I really believe that representation matters,” she said.

Like many of her students, Salma picked out a special outfit for the first day of school and got temporary henna tattoos on her hands. She’s already started to get to know students and families at back-to-school events and ice cream socials.

“?The kids here really want to connect and be in community with one another,” she says. “Minneapolis is diverse, but I don’t always see a lot of interactions between different communities. Here, people want to be in community together. I love that.”

As parents drop their children off at the school entrance by the parking lot, marked with a sign that reads “Gideon Pond Elementary Values All,” Salma greets them in English or Somali. Sometimes she calls a parent “abaayo” or a child “habaryar,” Somali terms of familial affection.

“I’m really excited to be here,” she says to one family. “It’s going to be a really good year, InshaAllah!”

One little girl wears a white hijab and a pink shirt that says “Be kind to all kinds.” As Salma compliments her shirt, the little girl grins ear to ear, exposing a missing front tooth.

It’s a challenging time to become a school principal. Daunting academic and social challenges—many grounded in the pandemic—have heightened Minnesota’s already wide racial academic disparities. Salma hopes to use her social-work background to create an environment where students feel loved and supported—and better able to learn. She also hopes to connect with kids through shared culture—like wearing henna, and bringing Somali words to school.

“I grew up just focusing so much on learning English, that I am now just beginning to learn Somali,” she said. “How do we change those experiences so that kids know that they’re amazing, and that school is the space that allows them to be the best version of themselves?”

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