Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Stimulus for Hunger Relief

The Economic Recovery and Reinvestment Act that was signed into law by President Obama last week will provide much needed stimulus to hunger relief organizations and the people who depend on us. Additional funding of $19.9 billion for the food stamp program that is called Food Support in Minnesota (and SNAP in the rest of the country) will most likely begin as soon as April. This is good news for the more than 31 million Americans who rely on Food Support each month.

For food banks, an increase of $150 million for the TEFAP program will provide more good quality commodity food for food banks to distribute. This additional food comes at a time when we are struggling to find the food resources to meet the increasing needs in our communities.
The stimulus will also provide additional funding for WIC, the Emergency Food and Shelter Program, and for grants to states for senior nutrition programs like Meals on Wheels.

This is good news for hunger relief organizations as we try to meet the increase in need with limited resources. The safety net is thin, but the stimulus will help fill some of the holes.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Itasca County Food Shelf Coalition

Today a new coalition was formed - the Itasca County Food Shelf Coalition. The leaders of the food shelves from Bigfork, Deer River, Warba and Grand Rapids met with the United Way of 1000 Lakes at Second Harvest Food Bank this morning. The new coalition will seek funding from the United Way to meet the increasing needs for emergency food assistance in Itasca County.

The numbers of people receiving food from these food shelves has increased by almost 50% since 2003. The current economic crisis has caused even more people to turn to food shelves for help feeding their families. The Itasca County Food Shelf Coalition will seek funding from the United Way to help meet this most basic of needs - food.

Without increased funding, food shelves will have a difficult time providing enough extra food to for the people who now find themselves needing help. Unemployment, job layoffs, cuts in work hours and the increasing costs for housing, transportation and food are causing more people than ever before to seek assistance. Additional funding for food shelves is crucial this year.

Meeting at Second Harvest today were Kathy Thompson and Kathy Nelson from Deer River Food Shelf, Pearl Barter from the Warba Food Shelf, Bonnie Cole from Northern Itasca Food Shelf in Bigfork, Ellen Christmas from the Grand Rapids Food Shelf, Jody Hane, Executive Director of United Way of 1000 Lakes and me, Sue Estee.

The Itasca County Food Shelf Coalition will continue to provide food to low-income people in Itasca County until all citizens are able to meet their own needs and a safety net is no longer needed.