Hunger Solutions Minnesota received the Food Research & Action Center (FRAC)’s 2017 National Award for Innovative Anti-Hunger Work for its efforts to advance public policy and grassroots advocacy on behalf of Minnesotans struggling against hunger. The award was presented during FRAC’s 27th Annual Benefit Dinner, held in Washington, D.C. on June 7.
The National Award for Innovative Anti-Hunger Work is awarded each year by FRAC to a state or local organization that has demonstrated innovation and leadership in the fight against hunger in America.
This year’s FRAC dinner focused on the strengths of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly known as food stamps) in reducing hunger and poverty and boosting health. Hunger Solutions Minnesota has made SNAP more accessible to many Minnesotans, particularly for eligible seniors. Through its innovative efforts, Hunger Solutions has made significant progress in improving access to SNAP by:
- engaging in extensive outreach
- advocating for eliminating the asset test for all SNAP participants,
- shortening the senior application to one page, from the original nine pages,
- working with the state to allow exemptions for prepaid burial plots and related expenses; and
- ensuring a month-to-month rollover of SNAP benefits.
Through its SNAP Rx program, Hunger Solutions Minnesota connects food insecure Minnesotans with assistance in applying for federal nutrition programs. As a result of all of these efforts, Minnesota’s SNAP participation has increased, and participation among seniors has more than doubled in the last decade.
“Hunger Solutions Minnesota continues to make tremendous strides in ensuring hundreds of thousands of Minnesotans have access to the nutrition they need for their health and well-being,” said Jim Weill, president, Food Research & Action Center. “Their innovation and leadership serve as a model for anti-hunger advocates across the country. FRAC is proud to partner with them in the fight to end hunger.”
“It is truly an honor to have our work recognized by our national partners,” says Colleen Moriarty, executive director, Hunger Solutions Minnesota. “We have come a long way toward ending hunger in our state, but there is still work to do.”
Since 2009, Hunger Solutions Minnesota has run the Minnesota Food HelpLine, which offers direct referrals to local food resources to those in need, and provides screening and application assistance to more than 6,000 callers each year.
Hunger Solutions Minnesota also runs the first state-funded farmers’ market incentive program in the country — the Market Bucks program, which matches ever SNAP dollar spent at farmers’ markets, up to $10. Market Bucks brought nearly 4,000 new customers to farmers’ markets across the state last year, and helped increase SNAP recipients’ access to healthy food.