Friday, January 30, 2009

Economic Stimulus

Everyone is talking about the economic stimulus. How will it affect the people that depend on food banks and food shelves? We know that the House passed economic recovery package will increase funding for food stamps known as Food Support in Minnesota and SNAP elsewhere. Putting extra resources into food stamp allowances will put much needed food on the tables of low income people.
There is also additional funding for the WIC program and The Emergency Food Assistance Program. The TEFAP program is very important for food banks. This program provides high quality commodity food for food banks to distribute to food shelves and soup kitchens.
The economic crisis has significantly increased demand at our food bank. New faces are visiting us every day due to rising unemployment, layoffs and increasing costs for basic needs like housing, food and heating.
The Senate's American Recovery and Investment Act includes increased funding for these extremely important programs. It is critical for food banks that these funds are available so that we can meet the needs of low income people who are disproportionately affected by the recession.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Renew America Together

President Elect Obama has called on Americans to join him in a National Day of Service on January 19th. He is asking us to "Renew America Together" not just on Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday and the eve of Inauguration Day, but to make a committment to on-going service throughout the year. We know that You understand and practice service to others and we sincerely appreciate President Elect Obama bringing national attention to the cause of hunger.

Our new president knows and undertands hunger issues. His mother used food stamps for a short time when he was a child. His campaign published a paper with the Obama/Biden plan for "Tackling Domestic Hunger." He has expressed support for federal nutrition programs that provide hunger assistance, especially for children.

Join us and support Renewing America Together. There are many ways you can learn about hunger in America and in Minnesota. Educate yourself and take action against hunger.

There are many ways to help right here:

  • Volunteer at your local food shelf or soup kitchen. Second Harvest's website has a list of our member agencies. Find out which one is closest to you and give them a call.
  • Call Second Harvest to volunteer at the food bank 218.326.4420.
  • Organize a food drive or a fund drive at work or with an organization you belong to.
  • Tell your local goverment officials that hunger relief policies are important and should be supported.

Join in the committment to service and we will "Renew America Together."

Friday, January 9, 2009

Happy New Year?

Now is the time we generally look back at the past year and set goals for the next. Last year wasn't all bad, but there were many challenges:
  • More and more people are in crisis and need food assistance
  • The food supply wasn't available to keep up with the demand
  • Food costs rose significantly
  • Fuel costs for food delivery skyrocketed

The good news is that we have incredible support from the community:

  • Many volunteers are willing and able to help
  • Financial donations met our goals
  • Our programs provided food assistance and hope to thousands of people
  • We have one new truck on the road and another coming this month that will enable more efficient, reliable delivery to our 145 agencies

Our goals for 2009 are to acquire and distribute almost 3.5 million pounds of food this year. There are many unknowns that will certainly affect our ability to meet this goal. Food distributors may be less likely to donate, foundations have decreased resources for grants, corporations may cut their charitable donations and individuals, who formerly supported food banks and food shelves, may find themselves in need instead.

There are two things I'm sure we can count on. 1.) Unfortunately, more people will be in need of food assistance before this economic crisis improves, 2.) Fortunately, our volunteers and donors will continue to help as much as they are able.

It will be a good year...together we will do all that we can to end hunger in our communities. Happy New Year!