HUNGRY FOR CHANGE
For Immediate Release Contacts:
Hunger Solutions Minnesota
612.227.7906 David Hlavac
HUNGRY FOR CHANGE: HUNGER SOLUTIONS MINNESOTA
RELEASES “STATE OF HUNGER” REPORT
Despite economic improvements, the need for hunger-related help – particularly for children and families – remains acute throughout the state
ST. PAUL, Minn. (August 13, 2013)— At a time when many Minnesotans are enjoying picnics and backyard cookouts, thousands of families statewide are struggling to put food on the table, while thousands more children have little or no access to breakfast and lunch during summer vacation.
A new report from Hunger Solutions Minnesota, a statewide hunger relief group that works with local and regional hunger relief organizations throughout the state, highlights the need for more resources, even as the state’s overall economy continues to improve. The State of Hunger in Minnesota report details how food insecurity impacts thousands of Minnesota families from every corner of the state.
“There is a widespread perception that hunger impacts only the very poor, or only urban families,” said Colleen Moriarty, executive director of Hunger Solutions Minnesota. “But nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, our report shows that an increasing number of working families rely on hunger relief efforts to ensure they can provide consistent, nutritious meals for their children.”
The report highlights a continuing need for food relief services in Minnesota. While unemployment has stabilized, more than 8,500 people per day still rely on the state’s food shelves. Families with children accounted for more than 1.2 million Minnesota food shelf visits in 2012.
Summertime: no vacation from hunger
The report also examined a growing need among Minnesota’s 600,000 children who eat lunch at school during the school year – limited access to nutritious meals during the summer months. During summer vacation, approximately 36,000 children in Minnesota eat lunch every week via the federally funded Summer Food Service Program, but this represents only 14 out of every 100 eligible children in the state.
“For thousands of kids, no school equals no lunch, and that’s simply unacceptable,” said Moriarty. “Thankfully, with help from our generous donors, Hunger Solutions Minnesota has partnered with Minnesota Department of Human Services and started a new Summer Backpack Program to help close the gap between kids who eat lunch and kids who go hungry.”
The program distributed grants to Greater Minnesota food banks that helped provide additional food for at-risk children over 12 weeks during the summer. Four food banks distributed backpacks filled with healthy food and nutritional information to children age 18 and younger in summer school and other programs during June, July and August.
The importance of SNAP
Through its research, Hunger Solutions Minnesota found that a lack of understanding about who qualifies for food assistance – either through food shelves or the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) – prevents Minnesota families from getting the help they need.
Introduced in 2009 and backed by a public education campaign, the organization’s Food HelpLine has helped more than 27,000 Minnesotans get assistance. The HelpLine helps people ﬁnd food shelves or meal programs, and it helps stabilize families by helping them enroll in SNAP. Families with children in Minnesota receive an average of $345 per month from SNAP to help them buy food, so families can pay other bills and jumpstart their own economic recovery.
However, SNAP funding is under fire from critics in the U.S. House of Representative, which recently proposed more than $40 billion in cuts to the program, which until now had enjoyed relatively broad bipartisan support for more than 50 years.
“Access to nutritious food is the most fundamental element that contributes to the success of healthy communities, and many of our elected officials – including more than half of the Minnesota Delegation – agree that SNAP should not be reduced. We believe these proposed cuts would be disastrous for thousands of Minnesota families, particularly those that are just now getting back on their feet following the economic downturn,” Moriarty said.
Hunger Solutions Minnesota is working to protect SNAP beneﬁts by urging the Minnesota Congressional Delegation to strengthen the federal nutrition programs so beneﬁts are sufﬁcient to address hunger and so the programs reach more households in need. Five of Minnesota’s U.S. Representatives – Rep. Betty McCollum, Rep. Collin Peterson, Rep. Keith Ellison, Rep. Tim Walz and Rep. Rick Nolan ¬– have signed on to a letter urging House leadership to support full funding for SNAP.
Read the full State of Hunger in Minnesota report and learn how to take action to fight hunger at www.hungersolutions.org.
About Hunger Solutions Minnesota
Hunger Solutions Minnesota works to end hunger by taking action, advancing public policy and guiding grassroots advocacy on behalf of hungry Minnesotans and the diverse groups that serve them. We connect Minnesota’s food shelves and hunger-relief organizations with the necessary funding, technical assistance and logistical support to reach thousands of Minnesota individuals, families and children in need. Our work is made possible through the generous support of donors across the country, each sharing our commitment to ensuring no Minnesotan will struggle with food insecurity alone.
To learn more about hunger in Minnesota, visit www.hungersolutions.org, or connect with Hunger Solutions Minnesota on Facebook and Twitter.