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.