MN Hunger Initiative Blog

Featured Partner: Keystone Community Services

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Featured Partner: Keystone Community Services

The mission of Keystone Community Services is to strengthen the capacity of individuals and families to improve their quality of life. Keystone provides vital, community-based services aimed at strengthening the community, with a commitment to serving people with the greatest needs. Services are designed with community input to meet the aspirations and respond to the changing needs of those we serve. For 80 years, Keystone has been a trusted place that neighbors in St. Paul turn to when they need support or when they want to connect with their community. Access to healthy food and support services is the key to a stable household. Keystone’s food shelves and Foodmobile (a mobile food shelf) provide healthy food and stabilizing support to more than 26,000 people in the St. Paul area. Their food shelves and basic needs services help low-income families have vital supports to be stable and successful. Keystone is able to provide these vital supports in the community only because of the kindness of our community – generous supporters and hardworking volunteers – who join them in their mission to improve the quality of life for the people around us. Make an impact and join them. Learn more about Keystone, by clicking...

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Featured Partner: Open Arms of Minnesota

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Featured Partner: Open Arms of Minnesota

With Open Arms, we nourish body, mind and soul That’s the mission of Open Arms of Minnesota. It’s a simple notion: people who are sick should not be without food. Yet every day people in our community with life-threatening illnesses find themselves unable to shop or cook — and, often, without the support network to help. That’s where Open Arms comes in. Open Arms of Minnesota is a nonprofit that cooks and delivers free, nutritious meals to people living with life-threatening illnesses in the Twin Cities. They believe that food is medicine, and that their work matters to the health outcomes of their clients. With the help of over 7,300 volunteers, Open Arms will cook and deliver more than 600,000 delicious meals this year to people living with life-threatening illnesses, as well as their caregivers and dependents. Since their founding in 1986, Open Arms has relied on its phenomenal community of donors and volunteers to help nourish and sustain people living with illness in the Twin Cities. They couldn’t do the work they do in their kitchen, on delivery to clients, or at their organic farm project without the support of these individuals. Join them in making a difference in our community! You can support Open Arms by becoming a volunteer or making a donation. They have volunteer opportunities in the kitchen, on delivery, at their urban farms, and in their office. Learn more and get started...

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Featured Partner: Hunger Solutions

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Featured Partner: Hunger Solutions

One big piece of Hunger Solution’s work is to advocate and give a voice to those who are facing the challenge of hunger in our state. Below is information on one of their biggest events of the year — Hunger Day on the Hill. It’s often said that as few as seven calls from constituents is enough to get an issue on the elected official’s radar, and sometimes even enough to persuade them to your side of the issue. Hunger Solutions has seen the importance of this advocacy in their work. When the state government budget proposal threatened to end funding for the Market Bucks program, dozens of calls to lawmakers got the funding restored. Every year anti-hunger advocates gather for Hunger Day on the Hill – a one-day event where they learn about hunger issues at the State Capitol and meet with elected officials to advocate for our policy priorities. Hunger Day on the Hill is a chance to meet with our elected officials face-to-face, build relationships, and lay the groundwork for future advocacy. Join us for Hunger Day on the Hill and put ending hunger in Minnesota at the top of the Legislature’s to-do list! Thurs., March 14, 2019 10:30 am-3:00 pm St. Paul College (Theater – 235 Marshall Ave., St. Paul) Register: hungerday2019.eventbrite.com We look forward to advocating together on the Partners to End Hunger Agenda: Fully funding the Good Food Access Program Improving school breakfast Ending school lunch shaming Continued mobile food shelf funding Farm to School and early care Urban Agriculture Grant Program Hunger Free Campuses Event includes: Prepare and practice speaking on key issues Visit with your legislators (meetings will be set up for you) Light lunch provided For more information on the work the Hunger Solutions does throughout the year, visit their website...

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Effects of the Federal Government Shutdown on SNAP Recipients and Hunger Resources

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Effects of the Federal Government Shutdown on SNAP Recipients and Hunger Resources

Due to the government shutdown many people who receive SNAP to aid with their food costs will see a large gap between their benefits. When the government first shut down in late December, February SNAP benefits were sent out early to ensure that people would still receive SNAP benefits for that month — with most of them being sent out by Jan. 20. Since February benefits were sent out early, and the next month’s benefits won’t be sent out until March, SNAP households could see benefit gaps of up to 50-60 days. What this gap in benefits means is that households that receive SNAP to feed their families could go almost twice as long without food assistance. The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities explains why SNAP benefits usually are used up quickly, and in turn how this gap could be harmful to SNAP households: SNAP benefits are not intended to cover the entire month for most households. The SNAP benefit formula assumes that families will spend 30 percent of their available cash income for food. Many households spend their SNAP benefits quickly because they can only be spent on food. Cash income from other sources is needed to pay for other expenses, such as rent or mortgage, utilities, essential non-food items, clothing, gasoline, and car repairs. As a result, families use their SNAP benefits first to make food purchases, saving cash for other needed expenses. Across the United States about 15 million households could experience a gap in SNAP benefits of more than 40 days. More than 4 million low-income households, including 8 million people, could experience a gap of more than 50 days. In Minnesota one third of SNAP households are expected to see a 50+ day gap in payments between February and March. RESOURCES A gap in SNAP benefits will put a strain on households that already have extremely tight budgets. Below is a list of resources if you or people you know need emergency food assistance, whether it be food shelves or dining sites that provide free, hot meals. Hunger Solutions Minnesota Food Helpline: Hunger Solutions is the perfect first step if you are seeking help and don’t know where to start. They operate the Minnesota Food Helpline, a resource that assesses the caller’s situation and provides solutions to their food needs. Give them a call at 1-888-711-1151 if you need any type of help. Helpline hours are 8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Monday-Friday. Food Resources Map: Hunger Solutions also has a feature where you can type in your address to find food-related resources near you. These resources include food shelves, dining sites, stores that accept SNAP, and more. Head to the interactive map here. Loaves & Fishes Dining Sites: Loaves & Fishes operates free, no-questions-asked dining sites around the metro. Simply walk in and enjoy a hot, nutritious meal. A list of their dining sites and hours can be found here. Pillsbury United Communities Community Cafe: Pillsbury United communities offers free, hot meals in their community cafes prepared daily by experienced chefs. Community Cafe is open at PUC’s Waite House Monday-Friday 11:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and at their Oak Park Center Tuesday-Thursday 5:00 – 7:00 p.m. Food Shelves: Pillsbury United Communities also provides food to Minneapolis residents through two food shelves, located at the Brian...

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Featured Partner: Valley Outreach

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Featured Partner: Valley Outreach

Valley Outreach helps people move their lives forward through basic needs services and personalized support. Best known for their longest running program, the food shelf, they also provide clothing, comprehensive case management, financial assistance and connections to a variety of other resources. They primarily serve people in the Stillwater/St. Croix Valley area but welcome anyone who comes to them in need. As a founding partner of SuperShelf (www.supershelfmn.org), Valley Outreach is committed to innovation and greater equity in the food sector. The SuperShelf model transformed their food shelf to create a more welcoming and respectful environment with greater access to healthy food choices. The SuperShelf model is currently rolling out at a number of food shelves across the state with support from an NIH evaluation grant. There are currently eight certified locations, including Valley Outreach. The spirit of this model is reflected in the experience of the people who visit the Valley Outreach food shelf. A client of theirs recently said, “When in need, Valley Outreach is the best place to go. They have friendly, compassionate people who volunteer there. They have a great variety of groceries. I never leave feeling bad because I need to use their services.” If you would like to learn more about programs and volunteer opportunities at Valley Outreach or to donate, please visit their...

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Walk to End Hunger 2018 Recap!

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Walk to End Hunger 2018 Recap!

Thank you to everyone who supported the Walk to End Hunger this year! Whether you walked or donated — you made this spectacular event possible. Not only did we raise a ton of money, both through individual organizations and the general fund, we also spread awareness to our fellow Minnesotans about the current picture of hunger in our state. Thanks to the efforts of everyone involved we were able to raise over $285,000 to fight hunger in our state. We also want to thank the nearly 2,500 participants who got up early and joined us as part of their Thanksgiving holiday to support the fight against hunger.   Go and like the Walk to End Hunger Facebook page for some event photos and to keep up to date with Walk to End Hunger news throughout the...

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Featured Partner: ICA Food Shelf

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Featured Partner: ICA Food Shelf

ICA Food Shelf is a multi-service organization serving people in the areas of Hopkins, Minnetonka, Excelsior, Shorewood, Deephaven, Greenwood, and Woodland. Their work is guided by the principles of providing self-sufficiency, stability, and security to the people they serve. Partnerships with neighboring business, organizations, and congregations are also a crucial part of the work that ICA does. The services that ICA operate are wide-reaching. Their food shelf runs on a choice model, which means that people who schedule a food appointment with ICA will select the foods that them and their family eat and already know how to cook. On top of this program and other food service programs, ICA also offers employment assistance, emergency assistance, transportation and housing assistance, and free medical clinic information. If you would like to learn more about ICA’s upcoming events, volunteer opportunities, and any other information, check out their...

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Walk to End Hunger this Thanksgiving!

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Walk to End Hunger this Thanksgiving!

What is the Walk to End Hunger? Join us as we walk to End Hunger this Thanksgiving! The Walk to End Hunger is a family-friendly indoor walk at the Mall of America that takes place on Thanksgiving morning. The event brings together 13 organizations, 10 of them being Minnesota Hunger Initiative partners, all with goal to end hunger in our state. Family-Friendly Fun! The Walk to End Hunger is the perfect family event, and could soon become a new Thanksgiving tradition! Make your first stop on the Thanksgiving holiday be the Mall of America, where your family can spend time together giving back before you give thanks later in the day. There are designated “Fun Zones” stationed through the mall, so you will find something to entertain you at every corner. Some of the activities taking place during the Walk include an obstacle course, face painting, a photo booth, balloon and airbrush artists, and activities that involve putting together food packages for people who need food this Thanksgiving. The Walk is also a great chance to talk about and experience the importance of helping others with your family! Ways To Register Create your own team – Get your family and friends together and create your own team! You can be a general walker and have the money your team raises be split evenly between all thirteen organizations. Another option is if you already have an organization in mind that you want to support, you can head to their organization’s homepage and create a team there – this way all of the money your team raises will go to that organization. Join an already existing team – If someone you know already has a team, ask them for a link to the team page and join their team! Walk as an individual – Don’t want to create/join a team? No problem! You can walk as an individual as a general walker or for a specific organization. Head to the Walk to End Hunger website to register. What To Do After You Register After you have registered for the Walk to End Hunger it’s time to start reaching out to your network of people to support you! Utilize platforms such as Facebook and Twitter to connect with your family and friends to let them know that you are walking this Thanksgiving, and that they can join your team or donate to your team. The Walk to End Hunger recently created a minute-long video meant to be a resource for participants in their outreach efforts. Videos are great attention-grabbers and display your message in a fun way! Check out the video here. We encourage you to use it to show that signing up for the walk is all it takes to become a hunger-fighting...

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Featured Partner: Meals on Wheels

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Featured Partner: Meals on Wheels

For the month of August our featured partner is Metro Meals on Wheels. Metro Meals on Wheels is the association of 32 Meals on Wheels programs in the Twin Cities. Meals on Wheels works hard to ensure that seniors and people living with disabilities receive healthy meals and are able to obtain independence. Volunteers not only deliver fresh, nutritious food right to the doors of Meals on Wheels recipients, they also provide a friendly visit and safety check-in that helps seniors live in their homes longer and maintain independence. Every August Meals on Wheels hosts their biggest fundraiser of the year, Meals on Heels. The premier summer party features food and drinks from local restaurants, entertainment, a raffle, and the Swank Soles contest in which the attendees with the best shoes take home a grand prize. The event takes places at the beautiful Nicollet Island Pavilion overlooking the Mississippi and the Minneapolis skyline. All proceeds from the party will go directly to support Meals on Wheels and their mission to deliver healthy food to our senior neighbors. Metro Meals on Wheels relies on the generous support of those in the community who believe in their work. You can donate or volunteer to Metro Meals on Wheels, or head to their website to learn more about...

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Featured Partner: The Food Group

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Featured Partner: The Food Group

For 42 years The Food Group has worked to provide good foods to those who need it most in our community.  We focus on local food access, equity, and nutrition issues related to food and hunger in more than 21 counties in Minnesota and Wisconsin.The Food Group works on both ends of the food system from production to distribution. Working towards building a better local food system for all, we focus on breaking down barriers to growing good food locally and breaking down barriers to getting good food to those who need it most. Below three of The Food Group’s programs are highlighted. Food Shelf Support We partner with 170 food shelves and meal programs to offer distribution of donated food, bulk purchasing (supplements the variety and quantity of donated food they receive), TEFAP food distribution (a government commodities program), nutrition education and resources, capacity building support, and culturally equitable food and resources. Fare For All We operate a traveling nutritious grocery store, which makes monthly stops at 37 distribution sites across the Twin Cities and greater MN to offer fresh produce and quality meats.  We break down barriers for families seeking to stretch their food purchasing power and achieve self-sufficiency by offering discounts up to 30 percent off retail prices. Big River Farms Our newly acquired programming offers organic and sustainable agriculture education for local immigrant and historically underserved farmers.  It also creates market opportunities for the participating farmers (via a CSA, farmer’s markets, and wholesale markets), provides educational programming on sustainable agriculture to children and community members, and hosts an annual Emerging Farmers Conference. If you would like to learn more about The Food Group visit their website or follow their Facebook and Twitter...

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