MN Hunger Initiative Blog

Victories at the Capitol for Fighting Hunger in our State!

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Victories at the Capitol for Fighting Hunger in our State!

Hunger Solutions works to advocate and give a voice to those who are facing the challenge of hunger in our state. Here are the issues that were of top priority for them this past legislative session, and the outcomes of their efforts: Market Bucks Funding With help from supporters emailing and calling lawmakers, funding for Market Bucks was restored. Market Bucks are money that is matched with money on a EBT card, and can be used at farmers markets all over Minnesota. If you would like to learn more about Market Bucks and how they work, you can check out a previous Minnesota Hunger Initiative post that will give you more details about Market Bucks and SNAP/EBT cards in Minnesota. Food Shelf Funding Increase An increase in funding for food shelves in Minnesota has passed! This money will go toward buying more proteins, fruits, vegetables and diapers. From 2011-2015 food shelf visits have increased by almost 6 percent for every age group, so now is the perfect time to be taking action on food insecurity in Minnesota. Good Food Access Fund It is estimated that 235,000 Minnesota live more than 10 miles away from a grocery store, supermarket, or supercenter. In order to keep access to healthy food in all areas of Minnesota, The Good Food Access Fund asked for an increase in funding so that they can continue their work. The Good Food Access fund was included in the Agriculture Budget, although it is unclear at this time what exactly this will mean. The Commission of Agriculture can appropriate up to $250,000 to the program per year.   Mobile Food Shelf Funding The ask for renewed funding for Mobile Food Shelves was not accomplished, but that doesn’t mean that the advocacy for Mobile Food Shelves will stop. The efforts to request funding for this program will continue in years to come. If you are interested in learning more about Hunger Solutions and the work they are doing, check out their...

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What is Minnesota doing to fight child hunger this summer?

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What is Minnesota doing to fight child hunger this summer?

*This post has been updated with new additions and the most recent data from the 2016-2017 school year. For many children in the state of Minnesota, meals at school are the only meals that they will have all day. According to the Minnesota Department of Health over 38.1 percent of kids receive free or reduced price lunch at their school, but only 17 percent of them receive summer meals from a program. One of the Minnesota Hunger Initiative partners, Second Harvest Heartland, has provided a great resource for those looking for information on summer meal programs. Here you will find an interactive map where you can type in your address and they will show you all locations that are serving summer meals for children under 18. They have also added a special feature that makes finding meal sites even easier! Just text “Food” to 877-877 and you will receive a text back with the address of summer meal sites in your area. Another exciting new addition coming this summer is the Metro Transit Summer Student Pass! Through a partnership between Metro Transit and Second Harvest Heartland, they are working to break down the barrier of transportation so children will be able to access free summer meals. Last year schools and other organizations at 870+ summer meal sites provided almost three million meals to children ages 18 and under. If you have children who would benefit from a free healthy meal, or you know some that would, let them know about this opportunity. If you would like to learn more about the Summer Food Service Program you can go here. Another one of our partner organizations, Loaves & Fishes, has a great Summer Meal Program dedicated to feeding children when they are out of school. On top of the 20 sites where they serve food at year round, they have an additional 9 specifically for children during the summer. What makes their program so unique is their focus on providing healthy food to the sites where their food is served. Because a portion of the food they supply is grown by them at their own farms, they have the advantage of serving fresh produce to the children at their sites. If you would like to find out more about Loaves & Fishes Summer Food Service Program you can visit their website. With only 17 percent of children in need being reached through the Summer Food Service Program, there is a need for more locations that provide food for them. If your school or nonprofit organization is interested in sponsoring and hosting a Summer Food Service Program you can find information about that here. Let’s work together to fight child hunger this summer!...

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Kitchen of Opportunities Grand Opening!

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Kitchen of Opportunities Grand Opening!

Earlier this month Metro Meals on Wheels, a partner organization of the Minnesota Hunger Initiative, had the grand opening of their new kitchen! Called the “Kitchen of Opportunities”, it really is a great opportunity for Meals on Wheels to provide seniors in the community with food that is more fresh and nutritious, as well as streamline the food production process and save money. Up until now Meals on Wheels programs have received all their food from outside professional caterers. The new operation will lower the cost of food for Meals on Wheels clients, which in turn will lead to feeding more seniors in need. The ability to create their own menu and tailor meals to meet clients’ needs and preferences is something that Meals on Wheels is very excited about. “It’s been great,” says Judy, who is 72 and lives in Brooklyn Park. “I really like the new food. The turkey meatloaf is really good and the fish is really good.” This new kitchen effort was not done alone though. It was made possible through a partnership with Open Arms of Minnesota (also a member of the Minnesota Hunger Initiative) and Urban Ventures, Inc. For more information on the Kitchen or Opportunities and it’s impact on Meals on Wheels, check out this post from the Meals on Wheels...

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Featured Partner: The Food Group

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Featured Partner: The Food Group

The Food Group, formerly known as the Emergency Foodshelf Network, is the only independent food bank in the state of Minnesota. They work with food shelves, meal providers, and other organizations, to provide access to free quality food and bulk amounts of food at or below wholesale prices. The Food Group doesn’t charge food shelves they provide services to any fees. What they do is provide free food delivery, outreach, and advocacy opportunities. They don’t just provide food in emergency situations. Through a variety of community partnerships they have developed programs that fight hunger in more sustainable ways such as the Fare for All program and the Mobile Foodshelf. Earlier this week The Food Group made an exciting announcement. Big River Farms, which is operated by the Minnesota Food Association (MFA), is now a program of The Food Group! The new program will focus on providing sustainable agricultural training for immigrant and minority farmers. This partnership means that The Food Group will be involved at both ends of the food system, from producing the food to distributing it. To learn more about Big River Farms, what this new program will be doing, or how you can get involved, visit this page!   To learn more about The Food Group visit their website: thefoodgroupmn.org, like them on Facebook, or follow them on Twitter and Instagram...

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Featured Partner: NorthPoint, Inc.

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Featured Partner: NorthPoint, Inc.

NorthPoint Health & Wellness Center, Inc. is an independent 501 (c)(3) non-profit health and human services organization with a 48 year history of providing a broad array of programs and services designed to meet basic needs, and to promote health and self-reliance. NorthPoint, Inc. is co-located on the same campus as NorthPoint Health & Wellness Center – a Federally Qualified Health Center, providing medical, dental and behavioral health care. For over 30 years NorthPoint’s Community Food Shelf has been available to those in need.  NorthPoint’s mission is partnering to create a healthier community, and meeting basic needs for food is the first step towards health for all. Last year the food shelf distributed more than 640,000 pounds of food to more than 13,600 individuals facing food insecurity.   NorthPoint’s Community Food Shelf is participating in the state’s largest food drive, known as the Minnesota FoodShare March Campaign. The March Campaign continues through April 8th, so they are asking that you bring your donation to their food shelf located at 1315 Penn Ave. N. Minneapolis, MN  55411.  You can also make a secure online donation by going to www.northpointhealth.org To learn more about NorthPoint you can visit their website or Facebook page, or follow these links directly to volunteer or donate to...

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What is being done at The Capitol to fight hunger?

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What is being done at The Capitol to fight hunger?

This past Monday people from all across the state gathered at the Capitol to advocate for hunger relief in Minnesota. At the third annual Hunger Day on The Hill there were many important issues being discussed. One of the great things about this event is that it brings together people who are working towards the same goal, as Hunger Day on The Hill Speaker Vayong Moua said: “It’s not just about talking with legislators, it’s about strengthening your allyship with the people around you.” Below are the issues brought up to legislators this year at Hunger Day on the Hill. Mobile Food Shelves Mobile food shelves are a creative twist on traditional food shelves that bring the food right to the people who need it. Mobile food shelves take away the stress that can occur when trying to find transportation to a food shelf. There are currently 22 food shelves in Minnesota that are interested in starting or expanding mobile food shelves that don’t have any funding at this time. With an increasing population over the age of 65, the need for programs like mobile food shelves will continue to increase. This year at Hunger Day on the Hill lawmakers were asked to renew funding for mobile food shelves for existing and new programs. Food Shelf Funding Increase Food insecurity continues to be a burden that affects thousands of Minnesotans. Food shelf visits have increased among all age groups by 5.9 percent from 2011 to 2015, with these visits staying above 3 million visits per year for the last 5 years. In order to alleviate hunger in Minnesota, it is being asked that there be a $1 million per biennium increase in funding to food shelves. Good Food Access Fund The Good Food Access Fund was created to support the sale of healthy, affordable food to places in Minnesota that are lacking access to those foods. One of the main goals of the project is to assist places of business that are selling nutritious and affordable food in locations where it might not otherwise be available. It is estimated that 235,000 Minnesota live more than 10 miles away from a grocery store, supermarket, or supercenter. In order to keep access to healthy food in all areas of Minnesota, The Good Food Access Fund is asking for an increase in funding so that they can continue their...

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How to get involved in the March Campaign

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How to get involved in the March Campaign

What happens when the whole state comes together to advocate for and support the fight against hunger? Big things! The Minnesota FoodShare March Campaign does just that by working to keep 300 food shelves across the state operating throughout the year. March is historically the month where food shelves receive the fewest donations. The campaign encourages individuals, businesses, faith communities, schools, and other organizations to support their local food shelf during the month of March. In 2016 we saw the most successful March Campaign to date, with over $7.9 million raised and 5.2 million pounds of food donated. This was raised by a variety of organizations coming together to raise money and food for their community. A number of the Minnesota Hunger Initiative partners are participating in the Minnesota FoodShare March Campaign. Here is a list of those organizations with a link to information on their food or fund drives: CEAP Family Pathways Hunger Solutions ICA Food Shelf Keystone Community Services Minnesota FoodShare Neighborhood House Northpoint Health and Wellness Center Pillsbury United Communities Second Harvest Heartland VEAP Valley Outreach Aside from donating food and money directly to the organizations, there are also many fun ways to get involved in the Minnesota FoodShare March Campaign. Here is a list of the Partners of the Campaign and Events they have planned: CRAVE Restaurants: Minnesota FoodShare has been chosen to be the CRAVE Cares charity for the month of March. Stop into one of their six locations in Minnesota. Finnegans Brewing: 100% of beer proceeds will be benefiting the Minnesota FoodShare March Campaign. Finnegans will also be marching with March Out Hunger in the St. Paul St. Patrick’s Day Parade. Participate in the Chef Food Fight by going to Finnegans, trying one of their dishes participating in the Chef Food Fight, going online and voting for it, and then a portion of the sales will be go to the Minnesota FoodShare March Campaign. Wedge Community Co-op: Round up at your next trip to Wedge Community Co-op and that money will go toward the Minnesota FoodShare March Campaign. BOB FM: BOB FM will be putting on a Minnesota FoodShare Benefit Concert on Thursday, March 16 at Le Musique Room in St. Michael. Come see Gravel Roads and special guest Two Hicks & A Chick. 100% of the artist’s proceeds will go to the Minnesota FoodShare March Campaign. Twin Cities Brackets for Good: Minnesota FoodShare is one of the organizations participating in the Twin Cities Brackets for Good, you can follow the action and donate online here. Schwan’s: When placing your online order with Schwan’s, you can designate a portion of your sales to go to Minnesota FoodShare. Find out more about what you can do to help the Minnesota FoodShare March Campaign on their website or their Facebook...

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Featured Partner: Hunger Solutions

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Featured Partner: Hunger Solutions

Hunger Solutions Minnesota was founded in 2001 with the merging of the Minnesota Food Bank Network and the Minnesota Food Shelf Association. Since their beginning, they have grown tremendously, and their impact can be seen very easily. Their work is simple: ensuring food security for all Minnesotans. They do this through their programs that work to end hunger by strengthening Minnesota’s food shelves through funding and technical assistance, connecting organizations and individuals working to end hunger in Minnesota, and advancing fair public nutrition policies on behalf of hungry Minnesotans. Some measures of their success include: Helping over 30,000 people find food shelves and food banks, as well as assisting with SNAP enrollment through their Minnesota Food Helpline since its start in 2009. Providing over $2 million in grants to food shelves in crisis through their Food Shelf Capacity Building Program. Distributing over 12 million pounds of food to food banks in Minnesota through The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP). Hunger Solutions is also dedicated to advocating for hunger relief in Minnesota. Hunger Day on the Hill is one way that they do just that. There will be briefings on key legislative issues relating to hunger. The event is free and open to anyone, but it is requested that you register in advance.  Here are some details about Hunger Day on the Hill 2017: Time and Date: Monday, March 13 10:00 AM – 1:00 PM Location: Minnesota State Capitol 75 Rev Dr Martin Luther King Jr Boulevard L’Etoile du Nord Vault (Room B15) St. Paul, MN 55155 Parking is available throughout the Capitol Complex. There is also parking available behind Hunger Solutions’ offices at 555 Park Street, St. Paul, MN 55103 You can find out more information about Hunger Solutions and Hunger Day on the Hill on their website or Facebook...

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7 questions about SNAP in Minnesota, answered

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7 questions about SNAP in Minnesota, answered

In January, Governor Mark Dayton declared it was Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) Education and Outreach Month. The declaration placed emphasis on the importance of SNAP education, so to follow up, we would like to provide a resource for anyone looking for information about SNAP in Minnesota. What is SNAP? The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program is a national program created with the intend to provide support and help stretch the food budget for households who need it most. How popular is SNAP usage in Minnesota? In Minnesota there are 476,000 residents receiving SNAP benefits, that is 9% (or 1 in 12) of the population of Minnesota. Of SNAP participants, 69% are in families with children, and 33% of SNAP participants are in families with members who are elderly or have disabilities. How much of the eligible population is using their SNAP benefits? Overall 66% of eligible Minnesotans are receiving their SNAP benefits, for individuals over the age of 60 the participate rate is 57%. By receiving SNAP benefits you are not taking away money from other people, the money for the program is already allocated. How do I know if I’m eligible for SNAP? SNAP eligibility is based on monthly income, expenses, and the number of people in your household. A helpful tool in finding out if you are eligible is this screening tool provided by the Minnesota Department of Human Services. Click here for more information on SNAP eligibility in Minnesota or the screening tool in other languages. What’s an EBT card? The Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) card is the means by which one receives their SNAP benefits. Once you have been approved to receive your benefits you will receive your EBT card in the mail within two business days. Your EBT will look just like any other debit card. Where can I use my EBT Card? Your EBT card can be used to purchase food at any of the 3,400 authorized retail locations in Minnesota. These authorized retailers include grocery stores, gas stations, and farmers markets. The card may also be used at some authorized sites for Meals on Wheels. If you would like to learn more about how SNAP benefits work at farmers markets, you can check out our post from last year on the topic. Here you can find a list of SNAP retailers by location in Minnesota. What are the benefits of enrolling in SNAP? SNAP was created to support individuals and households by supplementing some of their food budget each month. The average Minnesota SNAP participant receives $105 per month. Children who receive SNAP benefits and in turn are receiving more nutritious food are more likely to have fewer health problems, and have an easier time focusing in school. Elderly people who receive SNAP benefits are receiving more nutritious food are more likely to be able to live on their own longer and keep their independence. Receiving SNAP benefits can take a great deal of stress off of a family. In addition to the benefits already listed, SNAP benefits also help to boost the economy. Moody’s Analytics estimate that SNAP benefits have put $603 million into the economy of Minnesota, just in 2016 alone. This economic boost is due to the fact that people who normally wouldn’t be able to afford enough/nutritious food...

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Featured Partner: ICA Food Shelf

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Featured Partner: ICA Food Shelf

ICA Food Shelf serves the areas of Deephaven, Excelsior, Greenwood, Hopkins, Minnetonka, Shorewood, and Woodland. Since their start in 1971 ICA has been working toward their mission of providing hope and assistance to their neighbors in need through a variety of services. ICA’s services include: Food Distribution Program – scheduled pickup of food or, in case of emergency, a person may come to ICA for supplemental bag Walk-ins – Walk-ins at ICA will be given a supplemental bag and a future appointment will be set up Financial Assistance Program – Clients must apply, then schedule an appointment. This program assists with financial aid for rent, mortgage, and utilities. Employment Assistance – Job search support for clients of ICA. Services include: job search tools, interviewing skills, documenting work history, identifying resources for finding available employment, developing networking strategies, exploring career paths/building skills. 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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