ST. PAUL— As Minnesota takes steps to battle COVID-19, the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development is encouraging Minnesotans to shop and eat local this holiday season.

DEED is launching a #GetTakeoutMN initiative and is asking Minnesotans to share photos and takeout stories on social media using the hashtag #GetTakeoutMN. Restaurants are encouraged to share their takeout offerings on that hashtag as well.

DEED will amplify these stories in the coming weeks to highlight the key contributions that restaurants make to Minnesota’s culture and economy.

Helping local restaurants and eateries by ordering takeout is a simple way to support vital, beloved small businesses while enjoying a delicious meal. And it’s also a great way to help these businesses weather the impacts of the pandemic, a release said.

“The best way to help your local restaurants weather this time is by ordering takeout whenever you can,” DEED Commissioner Steve Grove said in the release. “They need our support now more than ever.”

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There are over 8,500 restaurants in Minnesota, and they employ over 100,000 Minnesotans.

Beyond being a key economic driver of the state, restaurants are part of its culture — bringing life to main streets and convening locals and visitors alike for some of their most treasured moments. They’re also pillars of communities, supporting schools, sports teams and hospitals.

“Think of the baseball team with the local restaurant or bar on the jersey; think about the local event where your neighborhood restaurant provided food,” the release said. “Restaurants support our communities in good times and bad — as we’ve seen during COVID-19, as countless restaurants have stepped up to help frontline workers and needy families across the state. Now it’s time for us to support them.”