Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Empty Bowls Pre-Event a Success!

KOOTASCA Event Planning Team

Second Harvest North Central Food Bank and the Community Cafe would like to extend a heartfelt thank you to everyone who helped make the annual IRC Pre-Empty Bowls event a success! Last week, we received $1,137.00 to aid us in the fight against hunger in our community. Don't forget to join us on Thursday, May 5th at the Sawmill Inn from 11:00am - 2:00pm and 4:00pm - 6:30pm. Call 218.326.4420 for more information.  

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Minnesotans miss 100 million meals each year

A study released in March by the hunger relief organization Feeding America estimates that Minnesotans struggling with hunger collectively miss almost 100 million meals each year. The Map the Meal Gap study says, nationwide, hungry people would need $21.3 billion to fill the gap in their food budgets.

Research conducted in Minnesota inspired the nation-wide study. Rob Zeaske and his colleagues at Second Harvest Heartland were looking for a better way to understand who needs help. Feeding America ran with that idea. The national study released late last month does two things that hadn't been done before. It estimates the number of people struggling with hunger in each U.S. county. And it puts a number on how many meals people are missing.

"I would say it's a tool for how people can really understand what are the needs in every community, and how do you actually identify closing the gap around the need," said Vicki Escarra, the CEO of Feeding America.

Feeding America researchers relied on census figures, which show 50.2 million Americans live in homes that struggle to get enough food. They took into account things like poverty and unemployment — and then estimated how many people they think are at risk for hunger in each county. On the census form, people also noted how much money they'd need to adequately feed their families. So researchers looked at how much meals cost in each county. From there, they were able to estimate how many meals people were missing.

While many times people are skipping meals altogether, sometimes they are eating a poor substitute for a meal, like a bag of chips.

According to the study, the five Minnesota counties with the highest rates of people struggling with hunger are Clearwater, Wadena, Mille Lacs, Pine and Kanabec. Second Harvest North Central Food Bank services two of these five counties. One problem in Second Harvest's area is that, according to the Feeding America estimates, 35 percent of the 29,600 individuals struggling with hunger make too much money to qualify for federal food assistance. But they still can't always afford to feed their families. After other bills, there's not much left for food.

An additional challenge that Second Harvest North Central Food Bank faces is the actuality of rural hunger. Rural households all across our seven county region suffer from food insecurity –the statistical measurement of hunger or near-hunger-at greater rate than the rest of the state and nation. A number of factors including increasing unemployment, transportation barriers, and access to grocers, contribute to hunger in our service area.  It is a distressing reminder that hunger persists in a state that is a leader in the food production industry.

Second Harvest North Central Food Bank's game plan to fight rural hunger is to: improve access to Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), extend tax deductions for food donations, and maintain commodity food programs such as TEFAP and CSFP.

We, as members of Feeding America, will continue working to make sure all of Minnesota's 583,710 people who currently struggle with hunger have access to three square meals a day.

For more information on the Map the Meal Gap study, click here.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Our Volunteers Are the BEST!

April is National Volunteer Appreciation Month and Second Harvest North Central Food Bank and the Grand Rapids Food Shelf would like to thank our many wonderful volunteers. We service a seven county area in north central Minnesota and our agencies span from International Falls to Princeton. We have several programs which work as our facets to distribute nearly 4 million pounds of food to those in need. Our volunteers generously give over 11,000 hours annually to Second Harvest North Central Food Bank and the Grand Rapids Food Shelf. Without our dedicated, hard working volunteers we could not do all we do. Whether it be; driving the mobile pantry truck, stocking the shelves, or assembling "Kids Packs to Go", we thank you for donating your valuable time. You are sincerely appreciated by all of us here at Second Harvest North Central Food Bank and those in need!