Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Enough for All Event scheduled for January 18th and 19th

The Enough for All Campaign is a series of multifaceted events, held in several congressional districts in Minnesota.  Each event focuses on learning and building awareness on the realities of poverty, local community engagement with elected officials, visual and performance art on the theme of Enough for All, and a call to action.  The common thread throughout the campaign is this theme:  "We believe there is enough for all to have enough, if we all do our part." 

Two events will be held in Itasca County.  The first event will be held on Wednesday, January 18th from 6-8:00pm.  It will start at the Myles Reif Performing Arts Center at 6:00pm.  Members of Circles of Support will take the stage for a moving performance illustrating their experience of living in poverty through words, lights, and sound.    After the performance, at 7:15pm, there will be a reception at the MacRostie Art Center featuring a traveling art exhibit depicting “Enough for All,” which is artistic expressions from local students of what “Enough for All” means. The second event will be held on January 19th, from 4-8:00pm at the St. Joseph’s Catholic Church in Grand Rapids.   This event will start out with learning stations where attendees can learn about poverty and resources for ending poverty, followed by a rice bar meal.  At 6:00, there will be a poverty analysis, followed by a panel discussion with area legislators at 6:30.  At 7:30, a Minnesota Church Ladies video will be shown, followed by a call to action at 7:45.  These events are being sponsored by A Minnesota Without Poverty, KOOTASCA Community Action, Circles of Support, Blandin Foundation, MacRostie Art Center, ElderCircle, KAXE and Second Harvest North Central Food Bank.

Both of these events are free and open to the public.  Free childcare will be provided on Thursday, January 19, 2012.  To reserve a spot for dinner and/or childcare or for more information, please call Kootasca at 218-999-5883.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Lt. Gov. Prettner Solon announces food support coalition

St. Paul, MN – Recognizing the growing need for Minnesotans, particularly seniors, to eat nutritiously to maintain their health, Lt. Gov. Yvonne Prettner Solon announced the launch of the Minnesota Nutritious Food Coalition, a public-private partnership to raise awareness and increase participation in the federal Food Support program, and provide guidance on means of better serving Minnesotans in need of healthy food. Gov. Mark Dayton also proclaimed January Food Support and Nutrition Outreach Month.

The coalition, comprised of experts from the Minnesota Department of Human Services, University of Minnesota Extension, Greater Twin Cities United Way, Second Harvest Heartland, Hunger Solutions Minnesota, Minnesota Chippewa Tribe, Minnesota Grocers Association, General Mills Foundation, counties and numerous other state, business, nonprofit and community partners, met today, and will meet quarterly thereafter. Their main charge will be to address food access issues, increase participation in the federally funded Food Support program, identify barriers and areas for expansion, and develop a coordinated outreach effort to ensure all Minnesotans who are eligible for the program have an opportunity to apply for it.

An increasing number of low-income Minnesotans are using food shelves and Food Support, the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program formerly known as Food Stamps. In addition to the health benefits, Food Support is also a significant asset to the economy, as it generates $1.73 of economic activity for every $1 that is spent.

“More than 500,000 Minnesotans access Food Support benefits monthly,” said Lieutenant Governor Prettner Solon, who was instrumental in launching the coalition. “Yet, many more, particularly seniors, are eligible for the program. The guidance, work and support of this coalition will encourage more Minnesotans to take advantage of this program so they can get the nutritious food needed for a healthy lifestyle, not to mention strengthen our local economy.”

Currently, only 65 percent of eligible Minnesotans and 41 percent of eligible seniors, age 60 and over, receive Food Support benefits.

The Minnesota Department of Human Services, which is responsible for the Food Support program in Minnesota, and its partners currently are working to:

• Educate communities about the purpose and use of Food Support
• Increase access to program information and application assistance
• Increase participation, especially among the working poor and seniors
• Share information among outreach agencies about the nutrition benefits, program details and application processes to help those eligible make informed decisions.
• Provide nutrition education programming in schools and community settings by University of Minnesota Extension and Minnesota Chippewa Tribe nutrition education instructors who focus on stretching food dollars and making healthy choices.

The coalition will bring these efforts together in a coordinated, cohesive effort, according to Lieutenant Governor Prettner Solon. The benefits of doing so are manifold, she noted, and will include:
More participation in the Food Support program, which offers needed nutrition to low-income Minnesotans, which benefits:

  •  Seniors who, with healthy diets, can live independently in their own homes longer rather than in long-term care facilities.
  • Children, who, when well-nourished, have better school attendance and are more focused on learning.
  • All participants who can now access Food Support at many farmers markets throughout the state to purchase fresh, local produce at a low cost

• An economic boost, creating ripples throughout the economy when new Food Support benefits are redeemed:
  • New Food Support benefits trigger labor and production demand, ultimately increasing household income and triggering additional spending
  • Businesses, including grocery stores and farmers markets, that sell food to Food Support recipients benefit.
• Employees whose food needs are met at home may have higher productivity and take fewer sick days for themselves and their children, according to the USDA.

The department has already implemented legislation and taken steps to improve access for Food Support applicants, including:
• Eliminating the asset limit to qualify for Food Support
• Changing the income limit from 130 percent to 165 percent of the federal poverty guideline
• Shortening and simplifying the application, and providing help to those who want it
• Offering a telephone interview as an option during the application process to make it easier for applicants
• Increasing accessibility via an online application, which is in development
• Providing technical assistance to counties working with recipients and applicants
• Coordinating with partners, including General Mills, Hunger Solutions Minnesota and Hunger-Free Minnesota, to develop and implement a statewide outreach campaign designed to increase participation within the senior and newly eligible populations.

“Collaboration among the Minnesota Nutritious Food Coalition members is the key to this effort,” said Lieutenant Governor Prettner Solon. “By combining our efforts at the national, state and local level with leaders in nonprofit community agencies, businesses and all others who touch the lives of potentially eligible Food Support recipients, we can increase Food Support use. That’s good for low-income Minnesotans, good for businesses and good for our economy.”

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Minnesota Food Bank Deliveries Up 42% in Three Years

Creativity and Capacity Growth Help Meet Rising Food Assistance Needs

Minneapolis, (January 4, 2012) Hunger-Free Minnesota (www.hungerfreemn.org) announced that its six food bank partners across the state increased their total deliveries of food by 42 percent over a three-year period. The six large Feeding America food banks delivered a total of 61.3 million pounds of food in 2010 to food shelves, food pantries and other food service agencies, compared with 43.1 million pounds in 2008. This data was compiled by EnSearch, Inc., with the support of Hunger Solutions and the six regional Feeding America food banks that are part of the Hunger-Free Minnesota coalition.

“Clearly, the food banks in Minnesota have done an exceptional job of increasing their capacity in the face of rising demand,” said Ellie Lucas, chief campaign officer of Hunger-Free Minnesota. “However, the food banks also need more resources to continue at this level. Data compiled for Hunger-Free Minnesota shows that there are children and adults who are regularly missing meals in every county of the state. As a coalition, we urge people to fight hunger where they live and to donate to local food banks.”

Data compiled by Hunger-Free Minnesota also shows that food banks have become a larger percentage of the sourced food for all food shelves and food-serving agencies. At the North Country Food Bank, Inc., in Crookston, food distribution increased by 79 percent. This year, the food bank opened a new food shelf in Crookston to provide a more convenient location for many in need. North Country Food Bank delivers to more than 150 direct food service locations but some are not open every day. Lack of transportation is often a barrier for those in poverty who can’t travel long distances.

Second Harvest Heartland in St. Paul and Channel One, Inc., in Rochester are two of the food banks that have expanded distribution to increase access and to reach those who may never go to a food shelf. They are delivering food to food shelves and food pantries, but also distribute food to their School Pantry and Summer Food Service Programs, which provide food to children during non-school hours. Second Harvest Heartland also delivers to other food banks in the state, leveraging its significant purchasing power, large storage facilities and well-developed transportation and logistics systems.

Shaye Moris, Executive Director of Second Harvest Northern Lakes Food Bank, said the food bank in Duluth has worked hard to increase food rescue at institutions and grocery retailers. “When school systems or retailers have lower-than-expected demand, it’s critical that we’re ready to immediately pick up that excess food. We then redistribute it safely to help those who really need food assistance. It’s so important that we don’t waste fresh food when so many families and adults are going without meals in our state,” said Moris.

The Second Harvest Northern Lakes Food Bank has added a new refrigerated truck designated for a large statewide food retailer capable of large-volume donations. The food bank has also expanded its warehouse significantly through a grant for increased capacity. It also leverages scarce resources by using the normally empty backhaul route of a local trucking company that makes regular deliveries to the Twin Cities.
“These are some examples of the ingenuity our partner food banks employed in increasing their abilities to meet the needs of hungry Minnesotans,” Lucas added.

Hunger-Free Minnesota is coalition of community leaders and citizens, nonprofit agencies, food banks, food shelves and corporate partners including Hormel Foods, General Mills, Cargill, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota, and others. The coalition encourages individuals and organizations to “Fight Hunger Where You Live.”

More information on how to get involved in fighting hunger can be found at the website http://www.hungerfreemn.com/.
Data Sources
Data compiled by Dr. Stacey Stockdill, EnSearch, Inc., for Hunger-Free Minnesota from data provided by Second Harvest Northern Lakes Food Bank and Hunger Solutions.

http://www.hungerfreemn.org/news/media-center (Localized food bank data)
Minnesota’s Feeding America Food Banks:
Channel One, Inc., Rochester http://www.channel-one.org/
Great Plains Food Bank, Fargo-Moorhead http://www.lssnd.org/greatplainsfoodbank
North Country Food Bank, Crookston http://northcountryfoodbank.org/ Second Harvest Heartland, Twin Cities http://www.2harvest.org
Second Harvest North Central Food Bank, Grand Rapids http://secondharvestncfb.com/
Second Harvest Northern Lakes Food Bank, Duluth http://www.northernlakesfoodbank.org/