MN Hunger Initiative Blog

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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Walk to End Hunger 2017 Recap

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Walk to End Hunger 2017 Recap

It feels like just yesterday we were walking around the Mall of America early on Thanksgiving morning. Thank you to all of the walkers and everyone who donated to the Walk to End Hunger in any form. On top of the money raised for each individual organization, the money raised for the general Walk to End Hunger fund is split between the 12 organizations.     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: Valley Outreach

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Featured Partner: Valley Outreach

Valley Outreach primarily serves the St. Croix Valley area through basic needs programs including a food shelf, clothing closet, emergency assistance fund, resource advising and case management. Off-site programming consists of a weekend snack pack program for students, Mobile Choice (monthly home delivery of food) and seasonal produce distributions. Valley Outreach strives to treat all their clients with respect, while also supporting and empowering them. In the past year Valley Outreach collaborated with HealthPartners, The Food Group, University of Minnesota Extension, and the Department of Family Medicine and Community Health in order to create SuperShelf. SuperShelf transforms food shelves, creating welcoming environments for communities to access appealing, healthy food. You can support Valley Outreach by volunteering with them or by donating in a variety ways including monetary donations, clothes, or food. If you’re interested in learning more about Valley Outreach in general click...

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Featured Partner: Open Arms of Minnesota

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Featured Partner: 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 of Minnesota comes in. Open Arms is a nonprofit that cooks and delivers free, nutritious meals to people living with life-threatening illnesses in the Twin Cities. Open Arms believes that food is medicine, and their work matters to the health outcomes of neighbors living with illness. With the help of over 6,000 volunteers, they’ll cook and deliver more than 600,000 medically-tailored meals this year to people living with cancer, HIV/AIDS, multiple sclerosis and ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease), as well as their caregivers and dependents. Since their founding in 1986, they’ve delivered more than 5 million nourishing meals to neighbors in need. THE 10TH ANNUAL TURKEY DRIVE Thanksgiving is a very special day at Open Arms of Minnesota. For more than 30 years, this holiday has been an important chance to show people living with life-threatening illnesses in the Twin Cities that someone is thinking of them, particularly those who don’t otherwise have a support network. Open Arms offers their clients two choices for a Thanksgiving meal to share with their families: 1. Those who feel up to cooking receive a high-quality frozen turkey with all the fixings. 2. Those who are too sick to cook get a ready-to-enjoy turkey feast delivered on Thanksgiving Day. To support this special tradition, Open Arms is aiming to raise $50,000 in the 10th annual Turkey Drive! Every $50 donation provides a turkey and all the fixings for an Open Arms client and their family so they can enjoy a Thanksgiving meal made with love. Sponsor a turkey dinner at openarmsturkeydrive.org HOLIDAY PIES, COOKIES AND MORE Do something deliciously impactful this holiday season: Order handmade goodies from the Open Arms bakery, perfect for entertaining and host/hostess gifts! Every $25 purchase of Thanksgiving pumpkin pies, cookie dough, peppermint bark and boxes of cookies supports five meals for Open Arms’ clients living with life-threatening illnesses. Place your holiday order at...

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Start a New Family Tradition with The Walk to End Hunger

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Start a New Family Tradition with The Walk to End Hunger

Have you been looking for a new family tradition? The Walk to End Hunger is the perfect Thanksgiving tradition that provides fun and entertainment for the whole family, and gives back to those most in need! The Walk to End Hunger is a family-friendly walk hosted by the Mall of America and presented by The Mosaic Company. The Walk takes place Thanksgiving morning 7:00am-10:00am. You’ll have already worked up an appetite and supported hunger-relief organizations in Minnesota, all before the Thanksgiving Day festivities begin! The Walk to End Hunger has 12 organizations that participate in the event, 10 of which are Minnesota Hunger Initiative partners. You can either donate to or walk with a specific organization, or you can donate to the general fund which is then split between the 12 organizations. Walk You can walk with a certain organization and have the funds from your team go right to that organization, or you can be a general walker and have your funds split evenly between the participating organizations. There is a $25 registration fee when you sign up to walk. Donate If you have a specific organization that you want to donate to you can donate to a team or individual walking on their behalf, or you can donate to the general fund which benefits all twelve organizations. To keep up to date with all of the Walk to End Hunger news make sure you like them on Facebook and follow them on Twitter. The Walk to End Hunger website is the place to go to find all your information, sign up for the walk, donate, and more. We hope to see you Thanksgiving morning as we give back before we give...

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Featured Partner: Catholic Charities of St. Paul and Minneapolis

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Featured Partner: Catholic Charities of St. Paul and Minneapolis

Catholic Charities of St. Paul and Minneapolis serves those most in need.  It is a leader at solving poverty, creating opportunity, and advocating for justice. The needs for social services are constantly changing, and since its founding nearly 150 years ago, Catholic Charities has worked to adapt to these changes. Catholic Charities responds in three ways: preventing poverty, meeting basic needs in time of crisis, and creating pathways out of poverty. You can see the values of Catholic Charities at work in all of their 39 different programs which assist 30,000 people each year across the Greater Minneapolis-Saint Paul Region. Food-related Programs: A Bridge to Stability Catholic Charities’ drop-in meal programs located at the connection centers in Minneapolis and St. Paul, serve as a bridge to stability. People who are on the verge of, or experiencing homelessness, come to Catholic Charities for meals, are screened for other needs, and then connected to a wide variety of critical services as pathways out of poverty. In addition to serving nutritious, hot meals, these convenient, one-stop locations encourage and empower clients in achieving both short- and long-term foundational stability and self-sufficiency, by offering on-site services to improve health, income, housing stability, and wellbeing. Historic Public-Private Partnership:  Dorothy Day Place Dorothy Day Place in Saint Paul—a bold new vision to prevent and end homelessness– is one of  Catholic Charities’ current critical initiatives. The original Dorothy Day Center was created 36 years ago with the intent to provide drop-in meals. As need for more resources was apparent, it transitioned into an overnight shelter. Six years ago they reached maximum capacity and had to begin turning people away who were looking for shelter. This is when the community came together and began the largest public-private partnership in state history in housing and social services:  Dorothy Day Place. The project is broken up into two phases. The first, which opened in January 2017, is “Higher Ground Saint Paul.” This five-story building, which is across the street from where the  Dorothy Day Center once stood, offers nearly 500 people experiencing homelessness a place to sleep at night through numerous options for emergency shelter and permanent housing. Phase 2 of the project will be the located on the former site of the Dorothy Day Center, and will be called the “Saint Paul Opportunity Center and Dorothy Day Residence”. This six-story building will be a one-stop location that will provide hot meals and connect people with the services they need most. The building will also include the Dorothy Day Residence, which will provide 177 permanent housing units. Construction has already begun for phase 2 and is planned to be completed by 2019. To learn more about Catholic Charities of St. Paul and Minneapolis click here. Also check out this page for more information on the Dorothy Day Place...

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What Makes a More Welcoming Food Shelf?

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What Makes a More Welcoming Food Shelf?

How can we as a hunger fighting community make food shelves more welcoming? This is a question that many of our Minnesota Hunger Initiative partners regularly work to answer, and it is one that should be a part of more hunger relief discussions. Food shelf customers deserve dignity, respect, and an overall good experience when they arrive at a food shelf. Thanks to two of our partners, Hunger Solutions and Valley Outreach, we have come up with a few ways that food shelves, and the community as a whole, can make visiting food shelves a better experience. Arrival A visit to the food shelf should begin with clear signage outside of the building with hours of service as well as clear signage as to where customers should enter. By eliminating initial confusion, people will start off their trip on the right foot. Upon arrival into the building customers should be greeted by volunteers or staff, and have the food shelf’s process explained to them. Having a welcome space that has chairs, coffee, water, etc., will create a welcoming environment for customers. In addition, having a dedicated area for people to fill out forms or talk with staff is a key component for making a visitor feel safe. This area should be out of earshot of others so that everyone feels respected and the customer’s information is private. Language Changing the wording of signs is a simple move that can make a lot of difference. Providing signs in shopping areas that are not limiting, even if there are limits, is one way to achieve this task. An example of this would be “Up to 2 items per household” instead of “Limit 2 items per household”. Having information in multiple languages is another way to provide a more welcoming experience for all customers. Having announcements and information that promote inclusion and equity are also ways of using language to improve the food shelf experience. Organization Part of creating the welcoming atmosphere for people is making the experience easy for them. Having an organized food shelf is crucial to attaining this goal. During service hours food shelves can get busy, making it difficult to stay organized, but the welcome area should be kept as clean as possible at all times. The shopping area should be nicely painted and bright with shelves and racks well-labeled. Putting in place a choice model with limits on items or broad categories, rather than a weight limit, will give customers more freedom. Food Quality People visit food shelves for one reason: to get food. Providing people with healthy options, and a variety of them, will make for a high-quality visit. If possible, food shelves should offer food in all categories: fresh, frozen, shelf-stable, bakery, and cooler foods. For fresh food items, removing highly soiled and rotten items makes a huge difference in the customer experience. Availability and Access to Other Resources A welcoming food shelf will not only supply food, but it will also provide other resources that customers might need. Displaying information on other resources in the area along with locations of neighboring food shelves gives people a chance to review their options. There can also be posters regarding civil rights, voting rights, and other information that gives customers a chance to read the rights that...

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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. For over 75 years, Keystone has maintained a consistent mission while remaining responsive to the changing needs of the community. Keystone has seven sites throughout the St. Paul area and serves more than 30,000 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 make their work possible! Keystone believes that all of our neighbors in need should have access to vital support to be self-sufficient, stable and successful. To be successful, individuals and families in our community need access to healthy food resources. Keystone has expanded food support programs by increasing distributions through the Foodmobile (mobile food shelf program) and continuing to offer free farmers market events throughout the summer growing season. Throughout all of the food programs, providing healthy food options is their top priority. This year, Keystone participated in the pilot of the Healthy Eating Inventory (HEI) and our program rated highly with an 80 HEI score. For comparison, the average American diet rates a 56.  To encourage healthy food choices, Keystone is currently participating with the Super Shelf program, along with three other metro area programs. Through the program Keystone is applying retail store design principles to help shape participant behavior toward choosing the healthiest foods. The project is working toward increasing utilization of fresh produce and making healthy choices more attractive to food shelf participants. Through all these efforts, Keystone is supporting individuals and families in need by giving them access to nutritious food. Keystone’s biggest event of the year is right around the corner! The annual fun-raising event, Keys to Success Event, is scheduled for September 28 and will take place at the Merriam Park Community Center. Tickets are only $35 and all proceeds from the event will help support the 30,000 neighbors in need on our community who rely on Keystone for support. Sign up to mingle with your neighbors, enjoy delicious food and drinks, and win “keys” for our surprise raffle. Buy your ticket on Keystone’s website or find event information on their Facebook page.     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. Head to their website to learn more and get...

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Featured Partner: Metro Meals on Wheels

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Featured Partner: Metro Meals on Wheels

The featured partner this month is Metro Meals on Wheels! Metro Meals on Wheels is the association of 32 Meals on Wheels programs in the Twin Cities. What Meals on Wheels provides is fresh nutritious food delivered right to client’s doors, as well as a daily visit from a volunteer. They serve seniors and people living with disabilities in the Twin Cities. Their services provide the basic need of healthy meal, as well as allowing people to live in their own home longer and maintain independence. This past year Meals on Wheels took the exciting step of opening their own kitchen, The Kitchen of Opportunities, through a partnership with Open Arms of Minnesota and Urban Ventures. This new kitchen brings the food preparation in house, and in turn will reduce costs and provide healthier, more customizable menu options. Meals on Wheels has began the process of integrating some of their member programs into using the kitchen, and it is expected that up to $200,000 in annual food costs will be saved by local programs. Meals on Wheels’ biggest event of the year is right around the corner! The annual cocktail party, Meals on Heels, will be taking place on August 17, at the Nicollet Island Pavilion. All the proceeds from the event go to support Metro Meals on Wheels. Included in each ticket is access to samplings of food and drinks from top restaurants and breweries in the Twin Cities, entertainment from Tim Mahoney, raffles and other games, and of course entrance into the Swank Soles Contest. For event and ticket information visit the Meals on Heels website, or their Facebook page. 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: CEAP

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Featured Partner: CEAP

The mission of CEAP (Community Emergency Assistance Programs) is to stabilize individuals and families in financial distress and to maximize their ability to live independently and with dignity. CEAP works to provide a holistic approach to providing resources to people in the community. They do this by offering a variety of services to their clients in order to meet their basic needs and in turn help them attain self-sufficiency. Their services operate in the areas of food support, transportation solutions, referrals, clothing, and community health. They serve Brooklyn Park, Brooklyn Center, East Champlin in Hennepin County, and all of Anoka County. An exciting program that CEAP runs is their Farm Fresh Fest. It is a summer festival that includes produce stands, grilled hot dogs, food samples, games, musics, community resources, and more! Each event draws in hundreds of people, and is a great place to go with families. The program kicks off Friday, July 21 and will run every other Friday until the end of October. If you are interested in supporting CEAP you can donate or volunteer, you can also learn more about the programs they offer by visiting their...

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