MN Hunger Initiative Blog

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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Walk to End Hunger 2016 Recap

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Walk to End Hunger 2016 Recap

This past Thanksgiving 2,700 people flooded the halls of the Mall of America all for the same reason: to end hunger. The annual Walk to End Hunger brings together 12 organizations that work to fight hunger and is a family-friendly event that promotes helping others. This year a total of $295,071 was raised, so thank you to everyone who walked or donated! One big highlight of this year was the increase in the number of general fund registrations and the number of general fund donations from 2015. The general fund is the money that is split between the 12 organizations. The organizations that were involved in the Walk to End Hunger were: Hunger Solutions ICA Foodshelf Keystone Community Services Loaves & Fishes The Aliveness Project Meals on Wheels Minnesota FoodShare Neighbors, Inc. Second Harvest Heartland The Food Group The Salvation Army VEAP If you would like to learn more about any of the partner organizations that participated in the Walk to End Hunger you can click on the organization’s name above. Expect information to come out near the beginning of fall on the Walk to End Hunger...

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Meals on Wheels partnering with popular Minneapolis photographer and writer!

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Meals on Wheels partnering with popular Minneapolis photographer and writer!

One of our partner organizations, Meals on Wheels, has a very exciting partnership going on right now. A few humans from Meals on Wheels are being featured on Humans of Minneapolis! But what is Humans of Minneapolis? Stephanie Glaros started photographing and interviewing people on the streets of Minneapolis in 2010, where her goal was to break down barriers and get to know people’s real stories. In 2013 this turned into her blog, Humans of Minneapolis, based off the very popular “Humans of New York” blog. Stephanie focuses on making connections between people. She works to encourage empathy and get us to recognize the things that we have in common with each other, especially with those who we normally view as different from us. Stephanie is partnering with Meals on Wheels to share the story of Meals on Wheels in a completely new way. She’s posting pictures and an accompanying story from eight people involved with Meals on Wheels. You can meet these eight humans, all with very special stories, by following Humans of Minneapolis on Facebook or the Humans of Minneapolis website. Throughout her experience interviewing and getting to know the people of Meals on Wheels, she has this to say: “There’s a lot more to the Meals on Wheels story that people aren’t aware of. There are all kinds of reasons why you might need the help from time to time. It might be a temporary situation, or it might be something more permanent. My hope is that people will realize that Meals on Wheels might be more useful to people than they realize.” We encourage you to share the photos and stories that are posted on Humans of Minneapolis, so more people can see the wonderful work Stephanie does and learn more about Meals on Wheels in the process! One of the goals of the campaign is to raise enough money to provide a holiday meal to every Meals on Wheels recipient. If you would also like to donate to this campaign you can do that...

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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 have the simple mission of working to prevent poverty, provide resources for those in poverty, and to advocate for justice in our community. They oversee 39 programs  throughout the Greater Minneapolis-St. Paul Region that assist people in need—including  people experiencing homelessness, children at risk, New Americans, older adults, and those with disabilities.  Through the largest public-private social services partnership in state history, Catholic Charities is working to build Dorothy Day Place in St. Paul—an innovative model to prevent and end homelessness. You can find a list of Catholic Charities programs and what they do at each of them here. Last year Catholic Charities provided more than 480,000 nights of housing and emergency shelter and served over one million meals to those in need. They couldn’t have done this without the generous efforts of their many volunteers. If you are interested in volunteering for Catholic Charities check out their volunteer page, with so many programs operating there is sure to be one that fits you just right! For more information about Catholic Charities you can visit their website, and like their Facebook...

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Where to find Thanksgiving Meals and Volunteering Opportunities

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Where to find Thanksgiving Meals and Volunteering Opportunities

On a day centered around a big meal, no one should have to think about where their Thanksgiving meal is coming from. There are a number of programs throughout the Twin Cities that provide hot and cold meals on the day of Thanksgiving. There are also a lot of options if you are interested in volunteering on Thanksgiving, and giving back before you give thanks. If you’re looking for meals Thanksgiving Meals on Wheels Thanksgiving Meals on Wheels prepares meals consisting of turkey, dressing, potatoes, peas, corn, cranberries, rolls, pumpkin pie and milk for families in need and delivers those meals to their homes on Thanksgiving Day. This service is available to all who need it – not just seniors. If you are interested in receiving Thanksgiving Meals on Wheels you can contact them at 651-699-5404 anytime after November 1. If you’re looking to help Walk to End Hunger If you want to give back on Thanksgiving, but you want to do it in a fun way that gets the whole family involved, then the Walk to End Hunger is the perfect option for you. The Walk to End Hunger is a family friendly 5k walk that takes place at the Mall of America on Thanksgiving morning. All of the proceeds raised from this event will go back to charitable organizations in the Twin Cities working to fight hunger. This event is a great way to give back before you give thanks. ICA: Holiday Meal Giveaway There are two options for volunteering with ICA. Holiday Meal Sales @ Minnetonka Cub Foods. Volunteers sit at a table and hand out Turkey Certificates – these allow shoppers to donate $10 to provide one family with a turkey this holiday season. They need volunteers for the following weekends: Oct. 28 & 29, Nov. 4 & 5, Nov. 11 & 12. Bagging for tips @ Minnetonka Cub Foods. Volunteers are needed to help Cub shoppers bag their groceries. All tips will collected will go to ICA Foodshelf. This event is taking place right before Thanksgiving on Nov. 22 & 23. Open Arms of Minnesota Open Arms of Minnesota is putting on a Turkey Drive! The Turkey Drive raises funds for to provide a turkey dinner for people with life-threatening illnesses and their loved ones. $50 provides a turkey dinner and all the trimmings for a client and their loved ones to enjoy....

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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 the Twin Cities 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. The nonprofit organization cooks and delivers free, nutritious meals to people living with life-threatening and chronic illness in the Twin Cities. With the help of more than 5,000 volunteers, Open Arms will deliver approximately 600,000 delicious 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. The fresh, healthy meals nourish clients like Bobbie, who has cancer. “When I first started with Open Arms’ food service, I didn’t realize how much it would mean to me,” she shared. “Because my brain was so affected I just wasn’t eating very well, just TV dinners. It was just too much to figure out…cooking was out of the question. I didn’t realize how hungry I was until I got my first delivery of food. What a treat! Thank you for helping me eat better for a healthier body.” This year, Open Arms will deliver its 5 millionth meal and celebrate a big milestone: 30 years of delivering nourishment and hope to people in the community living with illness. A great way to get involved this month: This November, Open Arms will continue a tradition dating back to its earliest days: delivering beautiful turkey dinners to clients on Thanksgiving. You can help sponsor these special holiday meals – $50 provides a turkey dinner and all the trimmings for a client to enjoy with their loved ones. Learn more and donate at openarmsturkeydrive.org. To learn more and get involved with Open Arms, visit:...

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Heating Assistance Programs you should know about!

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Heating Assistance Programs you should know about!

Fall is in full swing, and with this comes colder temperatures. With the harsh winters that we Minnesotans face, that monthly heating bill can be a big burden. If you’re struggling with household costs, you shouldn’t have to choose between food and paying the heating bill. Luckily, many state and federal programs have been created to aid this very issue. The Energy Assistance Program The Energy Assistance Program (EAP) helps pay home heating costs and furnace repairs for income-qualified households. This program is federally funded and does not have to be paid back, as it is offered as a grant. Grants are available for both renters and homeowners, and are based on household size, income, fuel type, and energy use. The services offered from the Energy Assistance Program may include: Payment of energy bills Help with utility disconnections or necessary fuel deliveries Education on efficient and safe use of home heating energy Advocacy with energy suppliers and human service providers on behalf of customers Repair or replacement of homeowners’ malfunctioning heating systems If you are interested, first find out if you are eligible by looking at the 2017 Maximum Energy Assistance Program Income Guidelines, then fill out an application and find your EAP provider. Cold Weather Rule The Cold Weather Rule (CWR) was created to help protect and reconnect your heat. All Electric and Natural Gas companies offer CWR protection. You can create a payment plan that will help make monthly heating bills more attainable, and prevent your heat from being turned off. You must make the CWR payment plan with your Electric or Natural Gas utility company to receive CWR protection. Different payment plans are offered based on household income and your electric or natural gas company. The Cold Weather Rule season is October 15th – April 15th. Payment plans must be established during this time. To sign up contact your electric or natural gas company and request a Cold Weather Rule payment plan. Low Income Weatherization Assistance Program This program is supported by Minnesota Energy Resources who provide funds for Community Action Program (CAP) agencies. There is no cost for customers. The following improvements are funded through this program to assist with heating costs during the winter: A standard energy audit Blower door test and assisted air sealing Side wall insulation Attic insulation Tuck under garages, foundations, crawl spaces, and rim joist insulation Outdoor venting of dryers and exhaust fans Caulking Weatherstripping Storm windows Storm doors Duct and pipe insulation in unfinished areas Emergency heating system and water heating equipment replacement In order to be eligible for this program you must meet state and federal guidelines. To find out if you qualify, contact the Community Action Program in your area. No one deserves to give up food or heat. If this issue affects you please see if you qualify for any of these...

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