MN Hunger Initiative Blog

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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Featured Partner: Loaves and Fishes

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Featured Partner: Loaves and Fishes

Loaves and Fishes’ Minnesota free meal program began 36 years ago, in 1982, with one dining site each in Minneapolis and St. Paul. Since that time, they have grown to serving 2,000 meals daily, are present in seven Minnesota counties, and are the largest open-to-the-public free meal program in the state. They serve free, healthy meals to people in need in areas where that need is greatest. Their enhanced mission emphasizes nutrition in every meal, which includes a local farm-to-table approach during Minnesota’s growing season. Loaves and Fishes is always guided by their vision that all people, regardless of socioeconomic, cultural or ethnic background, deserve to meet their basic needs for food, dignity and respect. Through a partnership with Greater Twin Cities United Way, Loaves and Fishes’ Minnesota was able to start the Farm for All program. Volunteers give their time at the four community gardens and farm sites to provide fresh, organic food to Loaves and Fishes meal sites across the Twin Cities.   If you are interested in learning more about Loaves and Fishes or volunteering you can visit their website here. You can also like them on Facebook and follow them on Twitter...

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Featured Partner: VEAP

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Featured Partner: VEAP

VEAP is a basic needs and social services organization whose programs promote access to healthy foods, stable housing and community connections and supports.  VEAP’s programs are designed address a particular need, and when used together provide hope, can help avoid a financial crisis such as loss of housing, transportation or employment.  Hardships can come from a disability, job transition, or the financial and physical stresses of aging, which is why VEAP has been helping the communities of Bloomington, Richfield, Edina and South Minneapolis for 45 years. VEAP’s programs are designed to create pathways to stability.  They take appointments for up to 120 households per day, providing healthy food, access to housing stability, resources for employment and other community connections. VEAP’s licensed social workers meet with new clients, allowing for a deeper level of intake and assessment ensuring clients have access to the tools they need to stabilize their situation. VEAP’s largest outreach is its food program which includes a food pantry, supplemental food programs for youth, food deliveries for seniors and a mobile food pantry. When a family or individual faces a crisis, having reliable access to healthy food can free up dollars in the monthly budget to allocate to housing, utilities, transportation, medication and more. Clients have told us that what they need is access to fresh and healthy foods and the main barrier to eating healthy everyday is cost. VEAP continues to look for ways to increase healthy food access.  The Summer Youth Food Program ensures that families with school aged children can visit VEAP one additional time each month.  During the school year, VEAP works with local schools to provide food packs for Friday afternoon distribution to food-insecure students. Identifying needs in the community is top priority.  In March of 2018, VEAP launches a new Mobile Food Pantry to distribute fresh food at targeted locations and neighborhoods around the communities served by VEAP.  Families with young children and seniors are two groups that will receive the outreach of this vital service. The emphasis will be on fresh fruit and vegetables and other perishables, meeting the needs and desires voiced by VEAP’s clients.  Currently 55% of food distributed by VEAP is fresh produce, and the addition of the Mobile Food Pantry will help to increase that percentage. Additionally, this will create deeper social connections in the community. The lack of affordable housing is one of the key drivers of financial instability for low-income residents. VEAP is a strong advocate in this area, working with various community partners and local housing coalitions to address this issue and help clients achieve dignity and housing stability. There are many ways for the community to be involved with VEAP. For every dollar donated, VEAP is able to purchase $10 worth of food. Donations can be made at VEAP’s website, www.veap.org.  Hosting a food & fund drive in your office, congregation or neighborhood is a great way to collect healthy food and support VEAP’s food programs.  To register, go to https://veap.org/donate/donate-food/food-drive-registration/ .  If you have a group interested in volunteering at VEAP, visit https://veap.org/donate/donate-and-do/. VEAP’s vision is to create a thriving community where all are free to pursue their dreams.  VEAP’s mission is creating pathways to stronger, more hopeful, communities through access to healthy food, housing stability and supportive services.  VEAP is...

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Featured Partner: Keystone Community Services

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Featured Partner: Keystone Community Services

The featured partner this month is Keystone Community Services. Founded in 1939 by community volunteers, Keystone Community Services is a multi-service nonprofit organization that provides high-quality social services in the community and in neighborhood gathering places to support and strengthen individuals, families and communities. Keystone has seven sites throughout the St. Paul area and serves more than 35,000 people through services in the areas of basic needs, youth school success and healthy development, youth employment, and senior services. More than 3,000 community volunteers, along with donor support, make Keystone’s work possible! Keystone believes that all of our neighbors in need should have access to vital supports to be stable and thriving. To be successful, people need access to healthy food resources. In addition to operating three food shelves, Keystone has expanded food support programs by increasing distributions through Foodmobile (a mobile food shelf program) and continuing to offer free farmers market events throughout the summer growing season. Through all these efforts, Keystone is supporting individuals and families in need by giving them access to nutritious food. Want to support Keystone’s food shelf efforts? March is a great time to get involved with food shelves like Keystone. Throughout the month, food shelves across the state work with local businesses, faith communities and individuals to raise funds and stock food shelves with fresh food. Need some inspiration about how to get involved? Here are some ideas: Hold a food drive – ask your employer or faith community to hold a food drive. Collect specialty food items with your book club or group of friends – read a book about hunger or a story prominently featuring food and bring specialty food items to donate to your next gathering.   Engage children – encourage kids to get their favorite food items at the grocery store to donate for other kids at the food shelf. Ask your family to support a charity on your behalf – celebrate your birthday, anniversary or other important milestone by having friends donate to food shelf in your honor. Find your way to support neighbors in need this March! Keystone Community Services relies on the generous support of the community to further their mission. You can donate to or volunteer with Keystone Community Services to support neighbors in need. If you are interested in learning more about Keystone, click...

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