As Colleen Moriarty sees it, throughout the recession food shelves and increased enrollment in SNAP have helped keep the numbers of hungry people from going even higher. Moriarty is the executive director of Hunger Solutions Minnesota, an advocacy group for food shelves.
“The reason they’re not going up more is that we’ve been more successful in getting people enrolled in the SNAP program,” Moriarty said. “I think that we responded as a community really well to the challenges that the food shelves faced when the economy went south. But the question is always, how long can you keep up that pace?”
It’s going to be a while before the level of need actually falls, Moriarty says, because the recession has a long tail.
“Even if the economy were to vastly improve today, it takes people 18 to 24 months to get back on their feet,” Moriarty said. “You’d still see steady uses of food shelves, if everything just right-sided today. You’d still see it for at least 12 months.”