The story of us
Hunger Solutions Minnesota was created in 2001, as a result of the merger between Minnesota Food Bank Network and Minnesota Food Shelf Association, both founded in the 1980s. Hunger Solutions was created to increase capacity and efficiency and to facilitate collaboration among nonprofit and state and federal government agencies working to feed the hungry today, while seeking long-term systemic solutions to end hunger in the future.
Hunger Solutions is a comprehensive hunger relief organization that works to end hunger in Minnesota. We take action to assure “food security” for all Minnesotans by supporting agencies that provide food to those in need, advancing sound public policy, and guiding grassroots advocacy. Hunger Solutions advocates for the effective use of federal public nutrition dollars and works to improve low-income Minnesotans’ access to all available nutrition programs.
Our current programs focus on getting food where it is needed most, expanding the capacity of food shelves to serve their communities, generating and distributing vital funds for members, and serving as the voice of the hungry in Minnesota.
We coordinate with the Minnesota Department of Human Services, Office of Economic Opportunity (OEO) to administer the state’s federal commodities program, which brings millions of pounds of highly nutritious food into the hunger relief system each year.We also work closely with OEO on food-shelf data collection and on promoting public nutrition programs throughout the state.
We pride ourselves in our strategic position in Minnesota to ensure a coordinated and effective effort in the fight against hunger. We work closely with federal, state, and local government, as well as regional nonprofit organizations dedicated to helping the hungry. Our membership includes the six Feeding America food banks serving Minnesota and nearly 300 food shelves.
Build the capacity of food shelves to serve their communities. Our Food Shelf Capacity Building Program assists food shelves in crisis. For example, when a major employer in a rural community closes its doors, Hunger Solutions works quickly to provide emergency grants and food for the local food shelves so they are able to distribute fresh, nutritious produce and culturally appropriate foods to meet demand. Hunger Solutions also provides essential equipment such as freezers and shelving. We offer training and consultation to staff and volunteers to make food shelves more effective.
Generate and distribute vital funds for members. We make emergency grants to members and distribute funds from the State of Minnesota and other funders to food shelves and food banks. Last year we distributed nearly $1.7 million.
Serve as the voice of the hungry in Minnesota. Hunger Solutionsplays a critical leadership role in hunger advocacy work statewide. We coordinate statewide hunger relief data collection and analysis. We educate lawmakers on hunger and nutrition issues in our state.
Hunger Solutions launched the Minnesota Food HelpLine in June 2009 to provide Food Support Program (“food stamp”) eligibility screening and application assistance for low-income callers statewide, some of whom are new to poverty. The Minnesota Food HelpLine fills an urgent gap during the current economic crisis when so many families and individuals are experiencing hunger—either more profoundly or for the first time—due to unemployment, loss of retirement income, and/or home foreclosures. It is a tremendous benefit for the thousands of Minnesotans struggling to make ends meet.
Here in Minnesota, food insecurity, while not a new phenomenon, has increased markedly in the past year: an estimated one in 10 people now rely on food shelves to help feed their families. We are pleased to have such strong partners as we develop new and innovative solutions to help struggling families put food on the table. The economic forecast tells us that our state will continue on the trend of high unemployment and underemployment. While this is true, Hunger Solutions is dedicated to working together to lessen the food hardship rates for our most vulnerable neighbors.