In 2014, there were 3.34 million visits to 300 food shelves across the state. That is 9,000 people a day seeking food assistance. This represents a 4% increase over 2013.
There’s a new normal in Minnesota and it is making an impact on hunger and bringing unprecedented demand to our main street response to hunger, our network of food shelves.
In a recent Gallup Healthways survey, 11% of Minnesotans reported having a food hardship, or not having enough money to buy food in the last year. In the post great recession economy, many of the families that visit food shelves have jobs. These jobs don’t pay enough to cover expenses.
Another factor contributing to hunger is policy changes to SNAP. SNAP, the program formerly known as Food Stamps, is the largest response to hunger in the US. In the fall of 2013 a policy change caused 89,000 adults to lose their benefits. This was twice as many as forecasted.
We invite you to download the complete 2014 Food Shelf Report that reviews all of the food shelf numbers, current hunger relief environment and recommended policies.
Please also review an interactive infographic to learn even more about who is hungry in Minnesota.
Hunger Solutions Minnesota is opposed to the plan to convert SNAP to a block grant. SNAP is the most effective response to hunger and it is designed to respond to the economy. Even with our improved economy, many Minnesotans still work at jobs that keep them at poverty levels. 500,000 Minnesotans rely upon SNAP to put food on the table.
SNAP works in Minnesota and we do not accept the House proposal that will damage an excellent and responsive program that helps our most vulnerable citizens: seniors, children and low income families.
Block granted programs mean that states would receive lump sum funding from the federal government. States could choose to use the funds for programs other than nutrition support. That approach makes it easier to cut these programs without saying how many people would be dropped or how their benefits would be cut. Funding would also be limited and not sufficient in recessions.
Next week, Congress is poised to begin consideration of its FY2016 Budget Resolution – and SNAP (formerly food stamps) is being targeted. SNAP has extraordinary strengths, yet some would make disastrous changes to a program that serves millions of children, seniors, veterans, people with disabilities, jobless adults seeking work, and those working – often at multiple jobs – just to make ends meet. We need your voice – and the voices of thousands of others – to say that Congress should support SNAP.
Our goal is to show the wide support for SNAP from people across the country, but we can only do this with your help! Sign the petition today and share it widely with your family and friends. Join us and tell Congress you want an end to hunger in America, not ill-considered budget proposals that would increase it.
Please sign and share the “Support SNAP” petition before March 24th.
Sample Tweet for Sharing: Join me and @fractweets in urging Congress to support #SNAP. Sign this petition today. bit.ly/1FUaioE
The annual national school breakfast report released today by the Food Research and Action Center(FRAC) finds that, on an average school day in 2013-2014, 136,113 low-income children in Minnesota participated in school breakfast, an
increase of 2.4% from the previous year. This finding illustrates the value of Minnesota’s efforts to provide students with a healthy breakfast each day, says Hunger Solutions Minnesota.
The School Breakfast Scorecard measures the success of the School Breakfast Program at the national and state levels. The FRAC report finds that 48 low-income children in Minnesota ate school breakfast for every 100 that received free or reduced-price lunch during the 2013 – 2014 school year, a slight increase over the 2012 – 2013 school year. That compares to the national average of 53 low-income children who ate school breakfast for every 100 who also ate school lunch.
HUNGER DAY ON THE HILL
Hunger Solutions Minnesota is hosting a celebration and rally for their statewide network of advocates. This grassroots network works to minimize the burden of hunger from local seniors and families by motivating decision-makers to take supportive action on fair and robust hunger policies.
Their 2015 Legislative Agenda includes expansion of school breakfast, SNAP incentives at farmer’s markets, and funding for mobile food shelves. Minnesotans continue to struggle to put food on the table.
Currently, 1 in 5 families are food insecure. Minnesota food shelves are visited by 8,500 people each day. The coalition will visit with their representatives after the rally and ask that all families will be ensured access to high quality food.
WHERE: Best Western Plus Capitol Ridge, 161 St. Anthony Avenue, St. Paul MN
WHEN: Wednesday, February 4, 2015—10:00 am to Noon
Welcome by Colleen Moriarty, Executive Director, Hunger Solutions Minnesota
10:35 Child Hunger Advocate and Chef, Seth Bixby Daugherty
10:40 “Sioux Chef” Sean Sherman
10:45 Minnesota Commissioner of Health, Dr. Edward Ehlinger
10:50 Minnesota Assistant Commissioner of Health and Human Services, Jim Koppel
10:55 Minnesota Assistant Commissioner of Education, Daron Korte
11:20 Personal Testimony by Isaac Russell
11:30 Advocacy Training
Noon March to the Capitol
About Hunger Solutions Minnesota
Hunger Solutions Minnesota works to end hunger via the Minnesota Food HelpLine and by advancing fair public nutrition policies on behalf of hungry Minnesotans. We connect Minnesota’s food shelves with funding, technical assistance and logistical support to reach the one in five families 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. Recognized as the most efficient civic non profit for two years running by the Minneapolis St. Paul Business Journal.
For more information visit: Hungersolutions.org
Outcomes indicate easier access to fresh produce through food assistance means better health
(Minneapolis – January 29, 2015) — The conclusions of a pilot program to make healthier eating more accessible for everyone is pointing to success. The Minnesota Hunger Initiative (MNHI) partnered with local technology company, Solutran, Inc., to launch the Healthy Savings™ program, which offered participants savings on fresh produce and other nutritious foods.
Healthy Savings™ – a first-of-its-kind pilot – is seeking to expand in 2015 in the face of the upward trend in visits to food shelves in the nine-county metro area. “Our mission is to help change the way America eats by making healthy food more affordable and easier to access through advanced technology,” said Chad Kelly, Solutran, Inc., general manager of Healthy Savings.
During the 12-week Healthy Savings pilot, 100 families – pre-selected by three food shelf programs – Community Emergency Assistance Programs (CEAP) in Brooklyn Center, Intercongregational Communities Association (ICA) in Minnetonka, and NorthPoint Health and Wellness Center in north Minneapolis – received $10 worth of free produce each week and up to 30 percent in discounts on other nutritious foods. With nearly 90 percent engagement, the Healthy Savings pilot program surpassed the U.S. Department of Agriculture Food and Nutrition Service’s Healthy Incentive Pilot (HIP) 2013 results. In that pilot, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) participants received 30 cents incentive for every SNAP dollar spent on fresh produce.
Healthy Savings™ organizers say simplicity was the key: Card users selected produce and discounted healthy foods at Cub Foods, Lunds and Byerly’s, and Rainbow Food stores. With the new Solutran technology, discounts and free offers were pre-loaded on to member cards each week and accessed through a simple scan at checkout counters. Survey results showed high marks for being easy to use, increasing the number of fruits and vegetables participants consumed, and contributing to weight loss.
“We wanted the program to be trouble-free for families when it came to making healthy choices about foods that were suddenly affordable for them. We’re very pleased that 98 percent of survey respondents rated the program as ‘easy’ or ‘very easy to use.’ The impact on the behavioral economics and the positive effect for the families involved was overwhelming,” said MNHI Director, Patty Wilder.
Client focus groups were also conducted to learn more about benefits of the Healthy Savings card for families. Fernanda from Minnetonka shared she received “…fresh produce at the food shelf once per month. But having a Healthy Savings card gave me the opportunity to have fresh fruits and vegetables weekly. In fact, I tried eggplant for the first time.”
Solutran, Inc. also donated $10,000 to MHI convener and Healthy Savings™ partner Greater Twin Cities United Way and the nonprofit’s cause, Stop the Growl. United Way incorporated the Healthy Savings program into its cause campaign.“We are most appreciative of Solutran, Inc.’s technology, their donation to ‘Stop the Growl’ and for recognizing the importance of access to healthy and nutritious foods. Together, we can continue to make a difference for hungry families in our region,” says United Way Senior Vice President of Community Impact, Meghan Barp.
To donate to Stop the Growl visit www.gtcuw.org/stopgrowl.
About Healthy Savings
Healthy Savings is a program for participants to save on healthier foods without having to clip, print or download coupons. Discounts are pre-loaded on to participant accounts each week and activated with a simple scan of a barcode from a card or mobile phone at checkout of participating retail stores. The technology for Healthy Savings was developed by Solutran, Inc. a Minnesota technology company in the financial services industry.
About the Minnesota Hunger Initiative
The Minnesota Hunger Initiative (formerly the Twin Cities Hunger Initiative), convened by Greater Twin Cities United Way, is an alliance of hunger relief agencies collaborating to end hunger in the region. Initiative partners include: Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis; Community Emergency Assistance Program (CEAP); Family Pathways, The Food Group; Greater Twin Cities United Way; Hunger Solutions Minnesota; Intercongregation Communities Association (ICA); Keystone Community Services; Loaves and Fishes Too; Matter; Meals on Wheels; Minnesota Department of Education; Minnesota Department of Human Services/Office of Economic Opportunities; Minnesota FoodShare; Neighborhood House; NorthPoint Health and Wellness Center; Pillsbury United Communities; Second Harvest Heartland; University of Minnesota Extension Services;and Volunteers Enlisted to Assist People (VEAP). MNHI also works with other various businesses and nonprofits to address hunger.
Solutran is a Minneapolis-based technology company whose mission is to provide clients with innovative, reliable and responsive technology solutions. Solutran invented the technology for Healthy Savings, which is designed to improve the way America eats. Solutran is a national leader in retail and grocery payments, consumer incentive payments and WIC (Women, Infants and Children) payments. For more information visit www.Solutran.com, www.healthysavings.net or call 888-SOLUTRAN (888-765-8872).
A proven idea that works to improve student health and achievement
St. Paul MN – Hunger Solutions Minnesota, Children’s Defense Fund Minnesota, Legal Aid, and the Minnesota Partners to End Hunger applaud Governor Mark Dayton’s choice to include $28 million to fund universal free school breakfast for grades Pre- K – 3rd grade in his newly released 2015 Budget. We support this measure and will work to advocate this legislation as it will effectively address child hunger and family food insecurity.
Minnesotans continue to struggle to put food on the table. Currently, 1 in 5 families are food insecure. Minnesota food shelves are visited by 8,500 people each day. Our coalition expects our leaders to create fair and robust policies that will make sure all families will be able to put food on their tables.
A national Share Our Strength survey of educators revealed that three out of four teachers and principals say they see kids who regularly come to school hungry and 87 percent of principals say they see hungry kids in their schools at least once per week.
Children who are undernourished have poorer cognitive functioning when they miss breakfast. Children with hunger are more likely to have repeated a grade, received special education services, or received mental health counseling, than low-income children who do not experience hunger.
Colleen Moriarty, executive director of Hunger Solutions Minnesota said, “We can and must fix this hunger gap. Along with lunch at school, breakfast is a ready and waiting hunger relief tool that can be expanded in Minnesota.”
Children who eat a complete breakfast make fewer mistakes and work faster in math and number checking tests. Children who eat breakfast at school – closer to class and test-taking time –perform better on standardized tests than those who skip breakfast or eat breakfast at home.
Minnesota is ranked 30th out of all 50 states in offering a school breakfast program:
If you’re low-income, hunger is not the only obstacle you face. In fact, the process of accessing nutritious food most likely highlights many of your problems. Can I safely get to a grocery store? Will my car make it? If my power fails in a snow storm will I have money to replace the food that goes bad? The lack of access to affordable, nutritious food is a public health issue. Community organizations and hospitals have been working to address these issues for years. Fortunately, we have one more tool in our belt thanks to the good ol’ Internal Revenue Service.
At the end of last year the IRS handed down a ruling on Section 501 (r) of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 (ACA). Basically the IRS said that to maintain nonprofit status, hospitals have to adhere to stricter guidelines in their Community Health Needs Assessments (CHNA), this includes addressing access to adequate nutrition. This ruling basically beefed up the prior community benefit clause.
It is no major revelation to those of us in the hunger field, or to our colleagues in health care, that addressing nutrition can drastically improve health outcomes. For reference I’ve included the MN Health Department’s definition of ‘Social Determinants of Health’ below.
Health is determined through the interaction of individual behaviors and social, economic, genetic and environmental factors. Health is also determined by the systems, policies, and processes encountered in everyday life. Examples of determinants of health include job opportunities, wages, transportation options, the quality of housing and neighborhoods, the food supply, access to health care, the quality of public schools and opportunities for higher education, racism and discrimination, civic engagement, and the availability of networks of social support (www.health.state.mn.us/).
Many Minnesota based organizations have been working on these issues for years. However, the recent ruling handed down from the IRS is great news for anti-hunger organizations and for hospitals. Or, it is great news for anti-hunger organizations, and we should be poised to assist hospitals make this new regulation a ‘win-win.’
The Community Benefit clause is important for some very obvious reasons: it reifies, IN TAX CODE, the inherent connection between health and hunger and it is a new potential funding source for small organizations who are working hard to increase access to nutritious food. But what excites me most, is the space it creates for dynamic partnerships, for silos to break down, and for really creative ideas that bridge gaps, solve PSE (policy, systems, and environments) challenges, and ultimately connect Minnesotans with really tasty, nutritious food.
by John Randolph, SNAP Outreach Specialist