Hunger in Central Minnesota

Every day, as my family returns home after school, childcare and work, there is a phrase spoken: Can I have a snack?  My son, a rapidly growing three-year-old, lets his dimples shine as he says “Please?” and I find it hard to say no. My family is fortunate enough to lead a life where this is an option, but there are many who struggle to access food for even a meal on a daily basis.

Hunger can affect so much more than an empty stomach.  Studies say that a child who is hungry is not able to learn at their full capacity.  Employees have a hard time focusing on their work if they are struggling to find food to eat.  The stress of worrying about how to feed a family can cause such mental distress, it can lead to physical illness and issues as well.  In United Way of Central Minnesota’s service area, FeedingAmerica.org lists the family food insecurity rate at 9.5 %. That runs just below the statewide average of 1 in 10 households experiencing the same issues related to accessing food.

March is Minnesota FoodShare month, a campaign bringing together the entire state to help increase donations and awareness to more than 300 food shelves.   Over the past 34 years, it has brought in almost 5.3 million pounds of food to Minnesota’s food shelves.

Catholic Charities Emergency Services Food Shelf distributes nearly 2 million pounds of food a year to families here in Central Minnesota.  A free, 5-7 day supply of food for households is made possible through grants, donations, partnerships with places like Second Harvest and Hunger Solutions, and campaigns like Minnesota FoodShare month. On March 24, their annual Pack the Porches event will be held with Coborn’s matching all donations with up to 10,000 lbs of food!

United Way is hosting a Kick Summer Hunger Kickball Tournament later this spring.  With registration opening on March 13, teams can register and raise funds for local food shelves to assist with the increased needs that the summer months bring.

Food is a basic need.  Access to food for those struggling to meet those needs can be a barrier. By working together, we can create awareness and increase the resources needed by food shelves and organizations working to tear down these barriers.  Take the time. See the need. Make the donation. Every little bit helps.

Written By: Alexis Lutgen, Community Impact Coordinator