Hunger-Free Minnesota Campaign Exceeds Goal, Adds 70 Million Meals and Infuses $9.7 Million into State’s Hunger Relief Efforts

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General Mills Foundation, Cargill Foundation and UnitedHealth Group lead funders

The investments we’ve made over the past three years will pay significant dividends for individuals and for a state that relies on a healthy population to thrive.

Hunger-Free Minnesota, a three-year campaign to transform hunger relief in the state, announced today that its collective efforts generated 70 million meals to feed hungry Minnesotans since it funded its first grant in late 2011.

The campaign’s goal was to provide 60 million total meals to fill Minnesota’s missing meal gap, while also making improvements in how hunger relief works in Minnesota that have lasting impact. Campaign leadership attributes Hunger-Free Minnesota’s success to several key factors:

  •     True cross-sector collaboration involving community, corporate, education, government, research and media entities at all levels
  •     Efforts grounded in rigorous research by Feeding America and a business plan developed by The Boston Consulting Group
  •     Data-driven accountability
  •     Strategic visibility efforts driven through media and promotional campaigns
  •     Generous financial support of the campaign’s eight programmatic initiatives

“I would like to thank the more than 3,000 individuals and organizations that have touched this campaign and helped us to reach our collective goal,” said Ellie Lucas, chief campaign officer for Hunger-Free Minnesota. “The investments we’ve made over the past three years will pay significant dividends for individuals and for a state that relies on a healthy population to thrive. We made improvements on the worthy efforts already in place, and increased our capacity to feed hungry or ‘food insecure’ Minnesotans -- those missing a meal every other day. We are confident that many of our efforts have taken hold and will live on beyond the end of this campaign.”

Programs receiving support included a large-scale agricultural surplus initiative that rescued nearly one million pounds of sweet corn that was going to be plowed under.
Efforts also addressed government-funded programs for school children, such as an incentivized school breakfast challenge that helped schools to serve an additional four million meals.

All told, Hunger-Free Minnesota’s eight key initiatives focused on:

  •     Agricultural Surplus Rescue aimed at capturing some of the 210 million pounds of surplus crops that go unharvested or unsold annually
  •     Prepared Food Rescue from restaurants and food service operations that otherwise goes to waste
  •     Retail Food Rescue from grocery and “big box” retailers led by Minnesota’s Feeding America food banks
  •     Community Close-Up, a granting initiative that rewarded collaboration, innovation and efforts to increase system capacity at the local level
  •     SNAP (U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) awareness and education efforts targeted at seniors and the recently unemployed
  •     Heightening participation in the government-funded School Breakfast, Not-In-School-Time Meals and Women, Infants and Children Nutrition (WIC) programs

Hunger-Free Minnesota made a cumulative investment of more than $9.7 million in communities across the state through 431 grants awarded between late 2011 into early 2015, as well other in-kind contributions of staff time and resources.

“We take a lot of pride in the role General Mills plays in serving people the foods they love, every day around the world. When communities are struggling with hunger, we want to help,” said Mary Jane Melendez, executive director of General Mills Foundation, a founding partner of Hunger-Free Minnesota. “Together with Hunger-Free Minnesota and its partners, we have made a profound and sustainable impact on the lives of those struggling with hunger.”

“Research demonstrates that access to nutritious food is fundamental to good health. We are grateful that significant portions of Hunger-Free Minnesota’s work underscored this premise. We see great potential to bring the successes of this program to scale in other states,” said Jack Larsen, executive vice president, OptumCare, a UnitedHealth Group company, which is a founding partner of Hunger-Free Minnesota.

“At Cargill, we believe that food security exists when everyone has access to safe, nutritious and affordable food,” said Michelle Grogg, executive director of the Cargill Foundation, the third major funder and champion of Hunger-Free Minnesota. “We are proud of our participation in this transformative campaign and the true difference it’s allowed us to make for food-insecure Minnesotans.”

Hunger-Free Minnesota was a limited liability partnership with Second Harvest Heartland food bank as its fiscal agent. From the beginning, the intent was to make a major impact within a specific timeframe. The Hunger-Free Minnesota campaign has now ended; grant applications are no longer being accepted. More information is available at


Hunger-Free Minnesota Founding Partners
Founding partners included the six Feeding America food banks serving Minnesota including Channel One Regional Food Bank, Second Harvest Heartland, Great Plains Food Bank, North Country Food Bank, Second Harvest Northern Lakes Food Bank and Second Harvest North Central Food Bank along with the Greater Twin Cities United Way and Hunger Solutions Minnesota.

Hunger-Free Minnesota Board of Directors

Dan Gott
Partner and Managing Director
Boston Consulting Group

Rob Johnson
President (retired)
Cargill Foundation

Shawn O’Grady
Sales and Channel Development
General Mills

Tim Roesler
Senior Vice President
American Public Media and Minnesota Public Radio

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Christine Tsang
Neuger Communications Group
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