Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Itasca Holiday Program - Donations Still Needed

Reminder: This is the last week to drop off toy donations. The deadline for all toy donations is Friday, December 13th at 12:00p at Second Harvest North Central Food Bank.

More than 1,800 gift bags will be filled on Saturday, December 14th and we hope to have enough donated gifts to provide each referred child with a gift. We are in need of new, unwrapped toys for children ranging in age from one to 12 years, especially ages 1, and 9 - 12.

Toy donations are being collected at many local businesses and churches. Donations can be dropped at any of the red and green gingerbread giving tree locations, Toys for Tots locations, or brought directly to Second Harvest during regular business hours. The deadline for all toy donations is Friday, December 13th at 12:00pm.

The primary component of the Itasca Holiday Program is a special food box containing traditional holiday foods and other items to provide for several additional meals. A $15 grocery voucher is included for a holiday turkey or other food item that the family would like. Funds are still needed to provide for the food needed to fill 1,740 food boxes. 

The food boxes and gifts will be distributed at eight locations throughout Itasca County beginning Monday, December 16th through Wednesday, December 18th.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Give to the Max Day Update

We are so thankful for our many wonderful supporters. We were able to raise just over $10,500.00 on Give to the Max Day 2013. Thank you for your patience and cooperation during the unfortunate technical issues. And mostly, thank you for your continued support of our mission.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Give to the Max!

It's Give to the Max Day here in Minnesota!

Give to the Max Day 2013 is back as the best day to make the most of your charitable giving. From midnight to 11:59 p.m. on November 14th, every donation you make gives your favorite nonprofit or school the chance to win even more money. It’s the Great Minnesota Give Together!

For every dollar donated to Second Harvest, we can provide food for FIVE meals to hungry individuals in north central Minnesota. Visit or GiveMN website here to Give to the Max, today!

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Eagles Auxiliary Harvest Dinner to Benefit the Grand Rapids Food Shelf

Join us for the Annual Harvest Dinner at the Grand Rapids Eagle’s Club to benefit the Grand Rapids Food Shelf on Friday, November 8th from 5:30pm – 7:30pm. Tickets are available at the door. $10.00 per adult, $5.00 per child 12 - 4, free for children 3 and under.

The home-cooked dinner will feature turkey, dressing, real mashed potatoes, and dessert. Please bring non-perishable food items to donate to the Food Shelf. Proceeds will help support the work of the Grand Rapids Food Shelf and the ever-increasing number of families in our area, who need help putting food on the table. Support for the Food Shelf is needed now more than ever.

The Grand Rapids Food Shelf is a program of Second Harvest North Central Food Bank. For more information call 218.326.4420 or visit

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Food stamp demand rises in Minnesota as budget shrinks

More than 554,000 Minnesotans get federal food assistance — one out of every 10 people in the state. A third are children. Another quarter are elderly or disabled adults. Contrary to popular stereotypes, a majority live in families where at least one adult earns a paycheck.
This week, their food budget rests in the hands of Senate and House negotiators, who are about to begin debate on the massive farm bill that will set the budget for the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), still commonly known to many as food stamps.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Meet Jim

For more than 40 years, Jim worked as a mechanic. When the economy crashed, business stopped. Jim knew he needed to apply for food stamps when after waiting for a customer payment all day - it simply never arrived. Without a cracker in the house he applied for food stamps and is glad he did. He would have had no other way to eat.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

40,000 Minnesotans would lose food stamps under new bill

by Brett Neely, Minnesota Public Radio

WASHINGTON — The U.S. House plans to vote tomorrow on a bill that cuts food stamps by nearly $40 billion over 10 years, a move that would eliminate benefits for 40,000 Minnesotans.
Food stamp funding has long been part of the farm bill, but after a disagreement over food stamp cuts sank a version of the farm bill, House Republicans in June decided to vote on the issue separately.
The House subsequently approved a scaled-down farm bill without food stamps in July. It now must be reconciled with the Senate bill, which cut food stamps by $4 billion.

Read the full story...

Real Stories of Hunger: Jessica

Jessica was laid off from her job a few years back. Determined to make it, she quickly got two other jobs as a waitress to support herself and her child while she looked for more work. Then she got sick, and temporarily lost her ability to walk - and consequently her job. With no income, she relied on food stamps to feed her and her daughter until she could literally get back on her feet again.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Minn. food insecurity still at all-time high

by Julie Siple, Minnesota Public Radio

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Hunger Action Month 2013

September is Hunger Action Month - working together to raise awareness of hunger in America

More than 50 million people in the US face hunger; wear orange to show your support on Sept.5

Second Harvest North Central Food Bank (August 30, 2013) - Hunger advocates from north central Minnesota and across the country will be wearing orange on Sept. 5 in an effort to raise awareness of the more than 50 million people in the US who face hunger. It's just one of the many awareness events taking place throughout the month of September in recognition of Feeding America's Hunger Action Month - a month-long campaign to help end hunger in our country.

Staring Sept. 1, Second Harvest and other food banks in the Feeding America network, will kick off Hunger Action Month by holding events throughout the country to inspire people to take action to help the millions of people who are food insecure in the United States.

“If everyone would wear orange and speak out for the hungry that are largely hidden and silent, our community would begin to notice that hunger is a problem that we need to take action to end,” says Sue Estee, Executive Director of Second Harvest. “They are our neighbors, co-workers, and even family members.”

The issue of hunger is of particular importance now when 1 in 6 people in the United States are at risk of hunger. Nationally, there are more than 50 million people who struggle with hunger – including 16.7 million children.

Here in north central Minnesota, about 23,200 people struggle with hunger, including 8,800 children.

“It’s a shame that in the ‘land of plenty’ we have neighbors and friends who have to worry about where they will get their next meal,” said Bob Aiken, CEO of Feeding America. “By raising awareness and working together, we can solve hunger."
Among the events taking place across the country, include:

·         Hunger Action Day - wear orange to support hunger awareness (Sept. 5)

·         Second Harvest’s First Annual Hunger Action 5K Run/Walk on Saturday, September 7th – visit for registration information.

·         Jeff Gordon's race car will display a "Hunger Action Month" sticker on it during a race at the Richmond International Raceway, thanks to a partnership with AARP Foundation. (Sept. 7)

·         Light up for hunger. Buildings around the country will be lighting up orange throughout the month to show their support. (Examples include Houston City Hall, Chase Tower in Phoenix, Sundance Square in Ft. Worth, TX) 

“We are excited to add the Hunger Action 5K event to the Hunger Action Month calendar. This is family fun activity to help raise awareness. We encourage the community to participate," says Gretchen Columbus.

The race will take place at the IRA Civic Center. The first 100 registered runners/walkers will receive a t-shirt. Registration will begin at 8:00am and the race will start at 9:00am. To register visit To learn more about Hunger Action Month, please visit

About Second Harvest North Central Food Bank:

Second Harvest North Central Food Bank serves 135 hunger relief agencies in Koochiching, Itasca, Cass, Aitkin, Crow Wing, Mille Lacs and Kanabec counties. Just under 4.4 million pounds of food and grocery products were distributed through those agencies in 2012. For more information regarding Second Harvest North Central Food Bank, visit or call 218.326.4420.

Contact:Gretchen Columbus, Communications Coordinator

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

BackPack Program Gears Up for Another Year

With summer vacation nearing the end, yet another school year is upon us. For many families this comes as a huge relief. They will soon receive the assistance of the free and reduced meal programs to help nourish their children. At many schools, children will also have the option of being a participant in Second Harvest’s Kids Packs to Go BackPack program.

The Kids Packs to Go BackPack program provides food to children who are at risk of going hungry. Weekends present a particularly challenging situation for children who depend on food programs such as free and reduced lunch to meet their nutritional needs.
The Kids Packs program seeks to fill this void and reduce the negative implications for a family without the means to meet their children’s dietary needs. Studies show that hungry children are more likely to experience headaches, stomach aches, ear infections and colds. They also tend to have lower math scores, are twice as likely to repeat a grade, and are three times as likely to be suspended from school. Some area teachers have reported that the Kids Packs have helped children to have more energy which helps them stay focused throughout the day.
Child hunger in America is a solvable issue. Programs like Second Harvest North Central Food Bank’s Kids Packs to Go BackPack Program, which puts nutritious food directly into the hands of children in need for weekends and school vacations, are making a difference in the lives of children every day. With your help, programs like this can be funded to make sure that children are not left behind.

 For more information on the Kids Packs to Go BackPack program visit :

Monday, August 12, 2013

Second Harvest Holds Mortgage Burning Event

What a great reason to celebrate. Second Harvest North Central Food Bank completed payment on the $1,800,000 "new building" project ahead of schedule. The final payments was made in May 2013.

2012 Annual Report

Second Harvest North Central Food Bank's 2012 Annual Report is now available online. You can review the report by visiting our website, click on News & Events > In the Press > Annual Report.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Summer Kids Pack Program Fully Funded Through Grant

Grand Rapids, MN – This summer, Second Harvest North Central Food Bank is working to end hunger in a way that they have never been able to do before. Thanks to a grant funded by Hunger Solutions Minnesota, Second Harvest is able to provide weekly Summer Kids Packs to food insecure children in the region. 
 “This grant couldn’t have come at a better time,” says Susan Estee, Executive Director of Second Harvest. “Just last week the updated Map the Meal Gap study results were released and it showed that there has been improvement, but we still have almost 9,000 food insecure children in our region. That is unacceptable and illustrates that our services are more important than ever. ”
During the school year, approximately 303,000 Minnesota children receive free or reduced-price meals through the National School Lunch and School Breakfast programs. However, when the school year ends, only about 20 percent of these kids continue to access similar meal programs over the summer. That means that for nearly three months out of every year, children in Minnesota are not getting the nourishment they need.
Second Harvest has been operating the Kids Packs to Go BackPack Program since 2005, when they distributed 35 packs to one school, once a month. The Kids Packs program continues to grow every year, and with each pack costly roughly $2.75, the program comes with a hefty price. During the 2012/2013 school year, Second Harvest distributed 2,200 packs to 23 schools, once per month. With the funding from this grant, Second Harvest is providing 11,400 Kids Packs to children in need, throughout the summer months, when school meals are not available. The Summer Kids Packs will be delivered once a month to the participating sites and distributed weekly by the site coordinator.
Sue says, “This was a last minute opportunity, but certainly one we could not pass up. The community is rallying to help us get the Summer Kids Packs ready for distribution to ten organizations throughout our region. Providing food to children in need is always a priority.”
This grant was made available to the Feeding America Food Banks in Minnesota by Hunger Solutions Minnesota. The funds were provided by the Minnesota Department of Human Services. Communities in participating in the summer kids pack grant are: International Falls, Cass Lake, Longville, Grand Rapids, Coleraine/Bovey, Hill City, Bigfork, Brainerd, and Crosby.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

The Hidden Problem of Senior Hunger

It could be happening to an important person in your life and you may not even know it. Grandmothers choosing between their medication or buying groceries. Grandfathers passing up meals to pay the mortgage. Senior hunger is a serious problem, but often hidden. So, for Older Americans Month, we’re working hard to expose it.

Take our short quiz on senior hunger now and find out the shocking facts for yourself. The reality is startling. After a lifetime of contributing to our society, too many seniors are spending their golden years worrying about where to find their next meal.

Lots of older Americans live on fixed incomes that force them to make tough choices about how to spend their money--and filling their pantries can sometimes be at the end of the list.

Unfortunately, Congress is talking about cutting programs, like the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), that provide food for seniors struggling with hunger. I bet if members of Congress knew the jaw-dropping facts about senior hunger, they’d think twice about these mean-spirited cuts.

We can’t allow senior hunger to hide in the shadows any longer. In honor of Older Americans Month, we are shining a light on senior hunger. How much do you know about senior hunger? Take this quiz now, spread the word, and join us in working to stop it.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Stop Eight Billion Meals from Being Lost

Despite our best efforts to convince Congress to balance the budget in a way that doesn’t hurt families struggling with hunger, the House Agriculture Committee is poised to vote on a Farm Bill that will cut SNAP, or food stamps, by $21 billion. That amounts to eight billion meals that will be lost over the next 10 years. That may not mean much to Congress, but for the people who might not know where their next meal will come from, it could be the difference between a hot meal or an empty stomach.

This is a crisis in the making and we need you to take action. Your representative is a member of the Agriculture Committee and is in a position to stop these mean-spirited cuts from happening, and to do that, they need to hear from you today.

Call your representative by dialing 866-527-1087 and listen to the pre-recorded message. We will connect you directly to their office and ask you to deliver this simple message:

As my representative, I urge you to vote against the House Agriculture Committee’s proposal to cut $21 billion from SNAP in the Farm Bill and to support Representative McGovern's amendment to restore the cuts. SNAP is important to ensuring the health and well-being of our nation’s future. Do not hurt people who truly need help by taking food off of their tables. Please vote “No” on the Farm Bill.

Because of advocates like you, we have fought off cuts to these important programs for more than two years. The stakes are high and we need your help. Will you call your representative at 866-527-1087 today?

Thank you for your important work in helping to feed hungry Americans.

Monday, April 29, 2013

New Research Shows Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Supports Healthy Diet Choices among Participants

WASHINGTON, April 24, 2013 – The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) increases the likelihood that recipients will eat whole fruit, and leads to a modest decrease in the consumption of dark green and orange vegetables. Overall, the diets of participants and low-income non-participants are similar, according to Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) Participation Leads to Modest Changes in Diet Quality  , a report released today by USDA’s Economic Research Service.

Program participants were 23 percentage points more likely to consume whole fruit when they receive SNAP benefits than when they do not. The study’s finding on SNAP participants’ modest declines in consumption of dark green and orange vegetables may be related to time constraints of the working poor, and the preparation time required to consume those foods. While the study found that the diets of SNAP participants are similar overall to those of low-income non-participants, it found that the participants are more likely to consume less sodium and saturated fat.

“All Americans, SNAP participants and non-participants alike, have work to do when it comes to eating a healthy diet,” said Agriculture Undersecretary for Food, Nutrition and Consumer Services Kevin Concannon. “The results of this study reinforce the critical role of USDA programs designed to increase access to healthy foods and nutrition education among low-income children and families to help make the healthy choice, an easy choice.”

USDA is focused on improving nutrition and empowering low-income families to make healthier food choices by providing science-based information and advice, while expanding the availability of healthy food through its nutrition assistance programs.
 ■USDA provides shopping strategies and meal planning advice to help families serve more nutritious meals affordably through its 10-Tips Nutrition Series and the Thrifty Food Plan.
 ■USDA is making fresh fruits and vegetables more accessible for low-income families. More than 3,200 farmers markets and farm stands are now authorized to accept payment through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), an increase of nearly 100 percent since 2010.
 ■USDA recently expanded the scope of SNAP-Ed to include targeted nutrition education and obesity prevention activities for SNAP recipients and other low-income individuals.
 ■USDA is conducting pilot projects to identify effective strategies for encouraging healthy food consumption among SNAP recipients.
 ■USDA's MyPlate symbol and the resources at provide quick, easy reference tools for parents, teachers, healthcare professionals and communities.
 ■USDA also created SuperTracker, a free online planning and tracking tool used by over two million Americans daily to help them improve food choices, maintain a healthy weight, and track physical activity.

Improving the diets of participants is a key focus of USDA’s 15 nutrition assistance programs that touch the lives of one in four Americans over the course of a year.  Together these programs make up the federal nutrition safety net. Visit for information about FNS and nutrition assistance programs.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Thank You Thursday - Kids Packs to Go Program Packing Volunteers

This collection of volunteers is comprised of two different groups. This collection of volunteers is comprised of two different groups. The first group originated from two volunteers, Connie and Vicki, who were the drivers of the Kids Pack program. They called upon a few friends to help pack the 30 to 50 Kids Packs. Since then the Kids Pack Program has grown exponentially and a second group has stepped up to help pack the 2,200 Kids Packs each month. The Northern Lights Charter School students come full of energy and are glad to give their time to help other children need. We are so thankful for our Kids Pack packing volunteers!

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Thank You Thursday - Retired Educator & Kleven and Friends

Retired Educators packing MAC boxes
This week we are featuring two groups who help us every month. Being a Grand Rapids resident from first grade through high graduation, it is a trip down memory lane each month when the Retired Educators group comes to help out. The retired educators group has been packing MAC and NAP boxes every month for over 10 years. This group jumped into action when we took on the project of packing the boxes and have been here ever since.

Kleven and Friends is a new group who visit monthly to help finish packing any MAC and NAP boxes left over and complete any other repack projects that we have. This group began as Jerry Kleven, a past and long-time board member, rallied the troops to help us out each month.

We are so grateful for both of these groups. The dedication of these men and women help us continue to alleviate hunger in north central Minnesota. Thank you!
Some of the Kleven & Friends repacking pasta

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Thank You Thursday - Alliance and Zion Groups

Alliance and Zion Church Groups

These two groups have been helping pack MAC and NAPS boxes, once a month, since Second Harvest Food Bank took on the program. Each year these groups pack thousands of boxes for seniors, mothers, and children in need. They do a lot of work in just one morning, but do not let them fool you; they have a lot of fun while doing it. They enjoy the fellowship of each other while supporting their faith-based mission to help others in need.
We appreciate you all and all that you do! Thank you!

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Thank You Thursday - Morning Volunteers

We have about sixteen different morning volunteers who work every weekday to help stock the shelves of the Grand Rapids Food Shelf. They pick up bread and groceries from local churches and businesses, sort and put away food orders, and do other work as needed to get the food shelf in order for daily operation. Without this group, it would be impossible to get the all of the work done in time to open the doors for the clients who need our help. We cannot thank the morning (pie guys) volunteers enough for their valuable time and hours of labor that ensure our doors are open and our shelves are stocked! Thank you for all you do!

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

2013 CROP Walk

The 2013 CROP Hunger Walk will take place on Sunday, April 28. Area churches work together through the CROP Hunger Walk to increase awareness of hunger issues and to raise funds for programs that address hunger both locally and throughout the world.

Last year, just under 1,500 CROP Hunger Walks raised $13.4 million to help end hunger locally and around the world. One quarter of the funds raised through these walks is used to strengthen local hunger prevention programs. The Second Harvest North Central Food Bank received the local 25 percent from the Grand Rapids Area CROP Hunger Walk. The other 75 percent is used by Church World Service for relief and development projects around the world.

Many churches have been involved in countless ways to address hunger issues over the last decades. CROP Hunger Walks have been happening for more then 50 years. Statistics indicate that all this effort has made a difference. Not only has the percent of the malnourished people in the world decreased significantly, but the actual number who died because of hunger and hunger related diseases has dropped to about half of what it was forty years ago.

Walkers for the Grand Rapids Area CROP Hunger Walk will gather at the United Methodist Church of Grand Rapids at on April 28 at 1:30 p.m. for registration and send off, with the Walk starting at 2 p.m. This year there will be options for walkers: a one mile, three mile, or the traditional six mile walk. Second Harvest and Voyagers Lutheran Ministries will be providing refreshments for walkers during and at the end of the walk.

For more information or to get CROP Hunger Walk material for a congregation, contact Rev. Loren Anderson-Bauer at 326-8508.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

March is National Nutrition Month and Minnesota FoodShare Month.   It is appropriate that we recognize the importance of nutrition along with food donations for the hungry.   Nutrition is the process of absorption of nutrients that the body needs be healthy and grow.  Without food there is no nutrition and certainly results in poor health.

In north central Minnesota, one in five children are food insecure.   They live in homes where resources are inadequate to meet basic needs and their food runs out before there is money to buy more.   Children who are hungry have more health problems and lower grades than children who have enough food.   Adults and seniors who are hungry also are more likely to be in poor health, resulting in higher health care costs.  Our community is negatively impacted when people are hungry.
Increasing access to nutritious food for everyone is critical to a healthy community.  There are many ways we can accomplish this.  The national school breakfast and lunch programs are a lifeline for children in low income households.  Improving the nutritional quality of food and making school breakfast available at every school would provide healthy meals for children who may not get enough to eat at home.
For those who don’t have enough food in the home, food shelves and soup kitchens help fill the gap.  Every March, food shelves across the state join together for a food and fund drive to raise awareness of hunger in every community and encourage donations that will help meet the need for hunger relief on the local level.  Every dollar donated can provide five meals for a child, senior or struggling adult in your home town.  Do your part to help provide nutrition, food and hope to people in need. 

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Be a Hunger Hero for a Child Today

Throughout the month of March, the Grand Rapids Food Shelf is joining with over 300 food shelves across Minnesota to collect donations of money and food. These donations will support local efforts to help feed people in need and reduce hunger in our community. When congregations, businesses, schools, or service clubs participate in the March FoodShare Campaign, the Food Shelf will make sure that the food and funds collected provides hunger assistance for people in our community who need it most.

Grand Rapids Food Shelf sees over 800 families each month. In order to keep the shelves stocked and meet the need, we count on local support to provide food and hope, to many desperate families trying to keep food on the table. This year, donations are down and we need your help to feed our hungry neighbors. Money collected throughout the FoodShare Campaign allows the Food Shelf to continue to act as a hunger safety net, for the remainder of the year. Without the community’s support the shelves will be empty.

You can be a Hunger Hero today. Every effort or contribution, large or small, helps us to continue to feed hungry children, families, and seniors. March is the time of year we can leverage additional dollars for the Food Shelf through donations because of the FoodShare Campaign and the Feinstein Challenge. More dollars mean we can provide more meals to our neighbors in need.

Recently a principal from a local elementary school contacted the Grand Rapids Food Shelf about a child who is continuously coming to school hungry. Hunger can be particularly devastating among children due to their increased vulnerability and the potential for long-term consequences. We were able to help the principal by providing information about the Food Shelf and other hunger relief resources for the family. Children who are hungry struggle to learn and thrive. Though many children often suffer in silence, the issue of hunger is all too common. It is a disturbing reality that 1 in 5 children in Itasca Country, live in food insecure households.

There is something you can do to help. Donate to the Food Shelf today, and give a child a brighter future.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

National Nutrition Month

Second Harvest North Central Food Bank is proud to join the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics during March in celebrating National Nutrition Month®. This year’s National Nutrition Month theme is “Eat Right, Your Way, Every Day” and encourages consumers to develop a healthful eating plan that incorporates individual food choices and preferences.

Here are a few ways to “Eat Right, Your Way, Every Day” from the food and nutrition experts at the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics:

·         Personalize your eating style: The easiest way to get the nutrients your body needs is to eat healthy foods you enjoy. Finding good-for-you foods that please your palette makes eating healthfully special and exciting.

·         Eat for your lifestyle: Athletic, vegetarian/vegan, corporate and family lifestyles all have special nutritional needs, but eating right can be easy and tasty with attention to those foods that best help get you through the day.

·         Incorporate cultural and ethnic traditions: Foods from around the globe often incorporate an abundance of unique, flavorful and nourishing ingredients. Keep traditions alive and bring the world to your family’s table.

·         Keep health concerns in mind: A healthful eating plan can help prevent and treat a variety of health concerns. With modification and moderation, you can still enjoy many of your favorite foods while meeting your nutritional needs and health goals.

·         Make MyPlate your plate: Fill half of your plate with your favorite fruits and vegetables; keep protein portions lean and about three ounces; make at least half of your grain choices whole grains; and be sure to include low-fat or fat-free dairy.

Initiated in 1973 as a week-long event, “National Nutrition Week” became a month-long observance in 1980 in response to growing public interest in nutrition. Additionally, to commemorate the dedication of RDs as advocates for advancing the nutritional health of Americans and people around the world, the second Wednesday of March has been designated “Registered Dietitian Day.” In 2013, RD Day is celebrated on March 13.

As part of this public education campaign, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics’ National Nutrition Month website includes a variety of helpful tips, fun games, promotional tools and nutrition education resources, all designed to spread the message of good nutrition around the “Eat Right, Your Way, Every Day” theme.  

Monday, February 25, 2013

Grand Rapids Food Shelf Kicks Off Annual March Campaign

Grand Rapids, MN – Throughout Minnesota, visits to food shelves have increased 164% over the past decade. That is why the Minnesota FoodShare, a program of the Greater Minneapolis Council of Churches, organizes Minnesota's largest food and fund drive for the hungry. During the month of March, Grand Rapids Food Shelf is joining with over 300 food shelves across Minnesota to collect donations of money and food. These donations will support local efforts to help feed people in need and reduce hunger in our community. FoodShare is a grass-roots driven food and fund drive that raises awareness about hunger in Minnesota where statistics show one in five Itasca County children do not have enough food to eat.

The theme of the Grand Rapids Food Shelf’s March FoodShare Campaign is “Be a Hunger Hero.” “Due to the reality that one out of nine families in the greater Grand Rapids area turns to us for assistance, the need is greater than ever,” according to Ellen Christmas, Program Manager of the Grand Rapids Food Shelf. “In order to keep the shelves stocked and meet the need, we count on local support to provide food and hope, to many families trying to keep food on the table. Every effort or contribution, large or small, helps us to continue to feed people. March is the time of year that we can leverage additional dollars for the Food Shelf through donations because of the FoodShare Campaign and the Feinstein Challenge,” she added.

The Grand Rapids Food Shelf distributes food to over 2,500 individuals every month. Close to 40% of those being served are children. Many people often choose to skip meals in order to pay for heat, medicine, and other basic needs. Current resources cannot meet the need for the increasing number of families seeking help. To allow the Food Shelf to continue to be a safety net for those experiencing real hunger, support is needed from the entire community. All food and funds contributed locally stay in the area and must be received in March to count toward the March FoodShare Campaign. 

There are many ways to become a Hunger Hero - donate to your local food shelf, host a food drive, or become a hunger relief advocate by taking action to end hunger. For more information contact Program Manager, Ellen Christmas at 218.326.4420 or

Thursday, February 14, 2013

State of Hunger in North Central Minnesota

Second Harvest North Central Food Bank, a member of Feeding America, appreciates President Obama’s State of the Union Address acknowledgement of the challenges facing low-income families and of the importance of jobs and opportunity. 
While we agree that a good-paying job and a strong economy are the best solution to poverty, we also believe that we have a responsibility to protect families from hunger when they fall on hard times.
Every day, we see the heart-wrenching tradeoffs that low-income families are forced to make. Here in north central Minnesota, more than 28,000 people live in homes classified as food insecure, meaning they do not always have access to adequate amounts of food to maintain an active, healthy lifestyle. To understand that point, you only need to make a visit to your local food bank, church pantry, soup kitchen, or other agencies in our community helping to put food on the table for struggling Minnesotans.
Federal nutrition programs, like the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, commonly referred to as food stamps), The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP), WIC and the Commodity Supplemental Food Program( CSFP) are crucial to helping families put food on the table so they do not have to choose between filling their cupboards or paying their rent.

While some would like to believe that hunger is a problem better solved by charity, the truth is as important as charity is, charity cannot do it alone. We also need a strong federal safety net. Speaking from the frontlines, we are barely able to keep up with existing need, and there is no way we could make up the difference if federal anti-hunger programs are cut, as some in Washington have proposed. If you have any doubt that need is real, take a look at these numbers:

         More than 1 in 5 children lives in a family that doesn’t always know how it will put food on the table.
         46 percent of food bank client households report having to choose between paying for utilities or heating fuel and buying food.
         39 percent of food bank client households are forced to choose between food and rent or a mortgage.
         3 of every 4 SNAP households includes a child, senior, or disabled person, and half of all SNAP participants are children.
         The average SNAP benefit is less than $1.50 per person, per meal. For senior households, it is only $1.23.

That is why Second Harvest North Central Food Bank is calling on government leaders from both parties to work together to provide economic opportunity for all Americans and to maintain strong anti-hunger programs to support vulnerable families on their path to self-sufficiency. Please join us.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Support Spotlight - Open Your Heart Produce Grant

For several years, Second Harvest North Central Food Bank has been the recipient of fresh produce through Hunger Solutions thanks to the Open Your Heart to the Hungry and Homeless grant. We, along with five other Feeding America partner food banks in Minnesota were again awarded a $100,000 grant to help fund a statewide acquisition of fresh produce for hungry our neighbors.
Every month, Second Harvest receives thousands of pounds of produce through this grant. Last month we received potatoes, onions, oranges, and carrots. We are so fortunate and thankful to be able to distribute fresh, healthy food to the elderly, children, and families in need.
The Minnesota partner food banks acquire nearly 1 million pounds of fresh produce - the equivalent of 800,000 meals - through the grant each year. This is hugely significant since fresh produce is one of the most costly and difficult food items to obtain for those in need.

Thank you, Open Your Heart!

Friday, January 18, 2013

How does the Fiscal Cliff agreement affect hungry Americans...

How does the Fiscal Cliff agreement affect hungry Americans & the food banks that serve them?

On January 1, Congress passed an agreement to avert the “Fiscal Cliff” and prevent tax rates from rising on 98% of Americans. As part of the deal, the automatic spending cuts (sequestration) that were scheduled to go into effect on January 1 have been postponed for two months. The measure also included an extension of the Farm Bill until September 30 and renewed the Food Donation Tax Deduction through 2013. Below is a breakdown of how the Fiscal Cliff agreement impacts the network and the clients we serve.
Farm Bill
  • Extends the Farm Bill until September 30.
  • No cuts to SNAP benefits, but $110 million was cut from SNAP Nutrition Education
  • TEFAP remains unchanged from previous Farm Bill.
  • Some expired (non nutrition) programs were not funded in the extension.
  • Reinstates and renews the food donation tax deduction for 2012 and 2013.
  • Leaves deductions including the charitable tax deduction uncapped.
  • Allows the Pease Limitation to be reinstated for incomes above $250,000 single/$300,000 married when taking itemized deductions (The Pease limitation reduces itemized deductions by 3 percent of the amount by which adjusted gross income exceeds a specified threshold, up to a maximum reduction of 80 percent of itemized deductions. Could have an impact on very large strategic gifts, but not nearly as much as capping deductions would have).
What’s Next?

Cuts to anti-hunger programs, as well as limits to the charitable tax deduction, were averted in this agreement, in large measure due to the tremendous advocacy efforts of anti-hunger advocates like you. However, deficit reduction politics will continue to dominate Washington. We can expect significant pressure to cut SNAP and other programs our clients rely on will continue through 2013 as Congress makes decisions on the Farm Bill, federal spending, and deficit reduction. We will need to be ready for several important events over the next few months and advocacy will continue to be critical.
  • Debt Ceiling vote: Mid-February. The Debt Ceiling will need to be increased in mid-February. This vote may be used as leverage to make sweeping spending cuts.
  • Farm Bill Markup: End of February. Because there is a new Congress, both the House and Senate will need to rewrite the Farm Bill. The House has indicated they will markup the Farm Bill on February 27. The Senate is also expected to act quickly.
  • Sequestration: March. The automatic spending cuts scheduled to go into effect January 1 were postponed until March. The threat of sequestration remains another leverage point to make additional spending cuts.
  • Expiring Continuing Resolution: March. The Continuing Resolution will expire in March, meaning Congress will need to pass legislation to keep the government in operation.

Right now, our focus should be on meeting with new Members of Congress and preparing for the upcoming Farm Bill and broader deficit deals. One thing you can do is join online campaign to get every Member of Congress to visit their food bank.

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