Minneapolis, MN (PRWEB) June 20, 2012
Hunger-Free Minnesota reports that emergency food capacity statewide is being strengthened as a result of grant awards given by the coalition to hunger-relief agencies across Minnesota.
“Thanks to a generous donation from Hormel Foods, these grants are helping community hunger-relief organizations increase their capacity for safely storing and delivering nutritious food,” said Ellie Lucas, chief campaign officer of Hunger-Free Minnesota. “They also are ensuring that seniors and others who qualify for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) know about the program and can overcome barriers to applying for assistance.”
“Though evidence is in the early stages of our campaign, we are pleased with the progress from some of our key initiatives,” Lucas said. “SNAP participation is increasing, particularly in the key population of seniors living below the poverty line.”
Hunger-Free Minnesota previously announced grants from Hormel Foods and this summer, those grants are in operation and making a positive difference in serving community needs.
The grant awards were made in Minnesota counties where Hormel Foods has business facilities and were for two specific purposes:
Grant awards were presented to:
Increasing emergency food capacity in Greater Minnesota
New cold food storage facilities in Long Prairie, Minn., allow the area to increase its retail food rescue efforts by 60% by adding a new partnership with Coborn’s to distribute unsold perishable food. This significantly adds to fresh food available for emergency assistance in Long Prairie as well as in the neighboring communities of Burtrum, Swanville, Osakis, West Union, Little Sauk and Grey Eagle. Rogene Moss of the Long Prairie Emergency Food Pantry, tracks how often people are using the food shelf in Long Prairie. The results of her tracking show that the food truly is serving its purpose of “emergency” support.
“Approximately 37 percent of individuals using the food shelf in 2011 used it only once, when they had an urgent need for food assistance,” Moss said. “Many who are using the food shelf tell us they will pay us back as soon as they can get on their feet. They come to us because they need temporary help to get through a hard time.” Moss said the food pantry serves approximately 100 families each month including long-time residents as well as newcomers.
The Long Prairie program is also working with the Todd County Extension, the local educational outreach of the University of Minnesota, to provide nutrition classes teaching food shelf users and other community members how to use fresh produce in recipes. They plan to offer utensils that may not be in all households, such as vegetable peelers and cutting boards, along with food safety guidelines.
Increasing Efficiency of Food Shelf Operations
Fruit of the Vine Food Shelf in Burnsville, Minn., received a grant to help the hungry in its region and to serve seniors who are not getting enough nutritious food. The food shelf has used the money in a variety of ways to increase its efficiency and reach. Many seniors who rely on this food shelf are homebound. Fruit of the Vine purchased a used van to deliver food to homebound seniors. The food shelf also hired a staff person who works directly in outreach with seniors, including those living in senior living facilities.
The organization reports its capacity has increased by more than 28 percent by renovating the physical space of the food shelf with a dedicated packing area to increase efficiency and by making software updates to track intake and output. The food shelf now serves seniors four days a week instead of only two.
Other food shelves and social service organizations are using the grant money to provide nutrition and cooking information on how to cook with fresh food and vegetables. Food safety is also covered. One food shelf director reports that many individuals on reduced incomes are not familiar with cooking with fresh foods because they haven’t been able to afford them. Once they start using fresh vegetables, they can also cook nutritious meals more inexpensively.
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.