Over the last two years, the Minnesota Partners to End Hunger Legislative Agenda advocated policies that help to stabilize low-income seniors, and un- and under-employed families with children so they may have access to adequate amounts of food as the recession slowly recedes.
Colleen Moriarty, Chair of Minnesota Partners to End Hunger and Executive Director of Hunger Solutions Minnesota, praised Senator Jeff Hayden and other legislators for their outstanding leadership on behalf of low income Minnesotans. “Low income Minnesotan’s personal economies are not bouncing back as fast as the rest of the economy after the recession. We are pleased that our leaders are creating policies that will make sure all families will be able to put food on their tables.”
Grass-roots advocates successfully advocated at the Minnesota Legislature for a variety of policies designed to put more food on the plates of hungry Minnesotans:
- In March 2013, the Legislature voted to support a bill that added $750,000 in additional support to the Minnesota Food Shelf Program, as a way to relieve pressure on the state’s resource-strapped food shelves, raising the total state funding to $1.7 million for the year. This is the first-ever permanent increase in a legislative allocation to Minnesota food shelves and a testament to the hard work of many anti-hunger advocates.
- In 2014 Minnesota increased the Minimum wage. Minimum Wage has passed at $9.50/hour by 2016, with indexing of up to 2.5 % starting in 2018 that can be suspended if the economy is doing poorly.
- Minnesota schools are now directed and funded to expand free school lunch – this would cover the 61,000 children whose families fall into the gap between full price and free. The legislature also eliminates the stigmatizing use of hand stamps and stickers on children if parents have unpaid lunch bills at school.
"It was a great day for Minnesota's children this session when, with unanimous bipartisan support, the bill to ensure that no child goes hungry in a Minnesota school because of a family's inability to pay passed the MN House of Representatives,” said Representative Yvonne Selcer. “I was honored to carry this bill, and am grateful to Legal Aid, Mazon, and the many organizations that worked so hard to ensure passage."
- Schools are also able to serve Universal Free Breakfast for all students in Kindergarten
- The legislature has approved a 5 percent funding increase for home- and community-based services, which includes home-delivered meals and nutritional services for seniors and people with disabilities. Home- and community-based services like Meals on Wheels bring nutritious food to seniors and people with disabilities, while also providing general support to Minnesotans who want to remain in their homes as opposed to moving to more costly institutional care facilities. The funding increase will help ensure more people in need will be able to use home- and community-based services, while also providing more equitable wages to the direct support professionals and caregivers who help deliver these services.
- Farm to Food Shelf is a new initiative that provides a $2,000,000 grant to move surplus edible agricultural crops and commodities from fields to food shelves statewide, working with the six Feeding America food banks that serve Minnesota. Between 200 and 300 million pounds of edible crops are either not harvested or harvested but not sold each year in Minnesota.
“Second Harvest Heartland strongly supported this legislation because we are committed to pursuing innovative ways to bring more healthy and nutritious food to our hungry neighbors,” said Rob Zeaske, CEO, Second Harvest Heartland. “The need is still high in our communities, and we thank legislators for supporting this effort to bring more fresh food to those who need it. We look forward to working with Minnesota’s generous growers to make that happen.”
Advocates poised to continue next session: The hunger and poverty problem is still a concern.
The newly released report from the Minnesota House of Representatives and the Select Committee on Living Wage Jobs reports that 1 in 4 Minnesotans works in a low wage job. Along with low wages, Minnesotans are also facing high food prices at the grocery store. Minnesota Partners to End Hunger hear from families that need supplemental services such as food shelves. The group is dedicated to assuring that there is an effective and fair safety net so food insecure Minnesotans won’t have to worry about their next meal.
Preview of 2015 Legislative Priorities for the Minnesota Partners to End Hunger:
- Assist more seniors and rural Minnesotans with mobility concerns with Mobile Food Shelves
- Increase SNAP access at Farmer’s Markets with incentives for fresh produce
- Advocate for universal free breakfast at school for students in all grades
- Expand access to summer feeding programs
About Minnesota Partners to End Hunger
Minnesota Partners to End Hunger believe that Minnesotans have the right to adequate amounts of food to remain healthy and productive. Minnesota Partners to End Hunger is a statewide network of service providers and advocates working to end hunger in Minnesota by motivating decision-makers to take supportive action on state and national hunger policy issues.