Hunger-Free Minnesota Asks Growers and Public to Plan Now for Agricultural Surplus Donations

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The coalition is encouraging farmers, community organizations and individuals to donate excess produce to local food shelves. Agricultural surplus is the latest initiative the coalition is implementing to support food banks and food shelves.

Hunger Free Minnesota

No donation is too small or too large. All of the food banks in Minnesota have storage capacity and we can also transport food between regions. We are ready to pick up food, but growers need to know who to call.

Hunger-Free Minnesota and its member partners are asking growers, community organizations and individuals to plan now for agricultural surplus donations to food banks and food shelves. The coalition is publicizing specific actions for growers, community groups and individuals to increase the amount of fresh produce available to those least able to afford it.

Hunger-Free Minnesota is promoting spring planting for donated produce and establishing partnerships with specific food shelves or food banks. Food banks that distribute large scale produce donations to Minnesota food shelves include:

Channel One, Inc., Rochester
http://www.channel-one.org
Vince McCoy
507-424-1722

Great Plains Food Bank,
Fargo-Moorhead
http://www.lssnd.org/greatplainsfoodbank
Steve Sellent
701-476-9104

North Country Food Bank, Crookston
http://www.northcountryfoodbank.org
Susie Novak
218-281-7356

Second Harvest North Central Food Bank, Grand Rapids
http://www.secondharvestncfb.com
Justin Linnell
218-326-4420

Hope for the City
http://www.hopeforthecity.net
Paul Gifford
612-282-7474

Emergency Foodshelf Network
http://www.emergencyfoodshelf.org
Kelvin Oscarson
763-450-3875

Second Harvest Heartland, Twin Cities, Mankato, St. Cloud
http://www.2harvest.org
Tony Mans or Mary Beth Dickey
651-209-7956
Toll free at 877-547-0245

Second Harvest Northern Lakes Food Bank, Duluth
http://www.northernlakesfoodbank.org
Shaye Moris
218-727-5633, ext. 113

“We are asking growers, community organizations and individuals to take actions this spring that will increase the amount of fresh produce available for those in need,” said Ellie Lucas, chief campaign officer of Hunger-Free Minnesota. “Our network of food banks and many food shelf partners are taking steps to make it easier and more efficient to harvest and donate surplus food.”

Hunger-Free Minnesota is a statewide coalition that aims to close a gap of 100 million missing meals in the state of Minnesota by 2015. Its three-year campaign is based on research showing that one in 10 Minnesotans is at risk of missing a meal every other day. The agricultural surplus initiative aims to add a minimum of 10.4 million meals through planting, harvesting and distributing agricultural surplus to food shelves and meal programs throughout the state.

“Advance planning and established partnerships give us the best opportunity to move perishable food into the emergency food system while it is still fresh,” said Tony Mans, director of food sourcing for Second Harvest Heartland. “No donation is too small or too large. All of the food banks in Minnesota have storage capacity and we can also transport food between regions. We are ready to pick up food, but growers need to know who to call.”

Statewide Examples of Diverse Donations
In Deephaven, a volunteer gardener at St. Therese started a garden exclusively for food shelf consumption. In 2011 this garden produced more than 4,000 pounds of fresh fruit and vegetables for the Intercongregation Communities Association Foodshelf in Minnetonka.

In southern Minnesota, farmers contributed approximately 60,000 pounds of produce in 2011 to the Channel One Food Bank and Food Shelf. The largest volume crop was apples. In northwestern Minnesota, the Great Plains Food Bank distributed truckloads of donated squash, onions and potatoes following the 2011 harvest.

Owner of Stoney Brook Farms in Foley Minnesota, Mark Chmielewski, found himself with a surplus of corn at the end of the 2011 growing season. “I knew the corn inside the husk was still perfectly edible and I would’ve hated to see it go to waste,” said Chmielewski. “I was amazed at the quantity of corn that we were able to move. I didn’t realize that the food bank had the capacity to take on such large donations.”

Orchards in Detroit Lakes and South Central Minnesota are examples of other established partners in agricultural surplus. In Perham, near Detroit Lakes, the school district is coordinating planting of apples and berries on school property. Students are involved and surplus goes to the Perham Food Shelf.

Actions You Can Take
Hunger-Free Minnesota and its partners are working to improve the infrastructure needed for greater use of agricultural surplus. Hunger-Free Minnesota has also identified specific actions for growers, community organizations and individuals. Examples of recommended actions and more ways to get involved can be found in the attached “How to Get Involved” information sheet.

For more information on how to participate in Agricultural Surplus call 877-547-0245. Second Harvest Heartland’s Harvest to Home program is detailed at http://www.2harvest.org/farm.

About Hunger-Free Minnesota
Hunger-Free Minnesota is a coalition of community leaders and citizens, nonprofit agencies and organizations including the Greater Twin Cities United Way, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota, food banks, food shelves and corporate partners including General Mills, Cargill, Hormel Foods, Land O’Lakes, UnitedHealth Group and others. The primary goal of Hunger-Free Minnesota’s three-year campaign is to close the 100 million missing meal gap in Minnesota. Initiatives in the campaign’s strategic, data-driven action plan include system-wide changes, new partnerships, education, policy changes, direct grants and other support for local participating organizations. The coalition encourages individuals and organizations to “Fight Hunger Where You Live.” More information is available at http://www.hungerfreemn.org.

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