Local Gardeners Can Fight Hunger through AmpleHarvest.org

September 18th, 2014

Second Harvest Heartland is always looking to find new sources of fresh fruits and vegetables for our neighbors in need. Programs like Retail Food Rescue and Share Fresh MN are a significant source of fresh foods, but individual gardeners can also have a huge impact on a local level.

With the help of AmpleHarvest.org, a free nationwide program that enables home gardeners to easily donate excess garden produce to local food pantries, gardeners can help their neighbors in need by reaching into their backyard instead of their back pocket. More than 7,000 food pantries across all 50 states have already registered with more signing up every day. Since 2011, local growers have donated more than 20 million pounds of freshly harvested produce to over 7,000 food pantries across all 50 states.

In the Twin Cities metro area alone, more than 30 food pantries are registered to accept produce through AmpleHarvest.org. If you’re a gardener with extra produce to share, you can find the nearest participating food pantry here. If you’re a food pantry and would like to register with AmpleHarvest.org, click here.

It’s never been easier for gardeners to make a significant impact on hunger in our communities, so please consider helping your local food pantry this summer!

Join Us This Saturday for Happy Hour for Hunger Relief!

September 17th, 2014

Do you like giving back to your community? Do you like beer?

Then we have the event for you!

Our friends at Summit Brewing Company are hosting a Happy Hour for Hunger Relief at their St. Paul beer hall this Saturday, September 20, from 4-9 pm, to help raise awareness of hunger as part of Hunger Action Month. The event is free to attend, but make sure to bring a non-perishable food item for a free Summit pint glass, or a bag of groceries for a customized t-shirt, screen printed on-site. Enjoy a specially-made Extra Pale Ale served with mandarin oranges, food from the Hot Indian food truck, and live music from The Dan Ol’ Tri’ole band.

Join us!

When: Saturday, September 20, 4-9pm

Where: Summit Beer Hall, 910 Montreal Circle, St Paul, MN 55102

Why: Join Summit Brewery and Second Harvest Heartland as we go orange for Hunger Action Month to raise awareness of hunger in Minnesota.

Cost: Free to attend. Bring a non-perishable food item for a free Summit pint glass, or bring a bag of food for a customized t-shirt, screen printed on-site. Fifty percent of beer sales will be donated to Second Harvest Heartland.

Food: The Hot Indian food truck

Music: The Dang Ol’ Tri’ole band

Fight Hunger. Spark Change. Support Fresh Food Capacity.

September 15th, 2014

This fall, Second Harvest Heartland is working with Walmart and Feeding America to fight hunger with several of our partners – and we need your help. Your vote for Second Harvest Heartland will help us win $60,000 to be shared with nine of our food shelf partners, helping get even more fresh foods from our region’s farms and retail stores into the homes of people who would otherwise go without.

From purchasing refrigerators, expanding special produce distribution events in their neighborhoods, and remodeling spaces to highlight fresh foods, each partner has exciting plans to increase the amount of fresh foods they distribute.  Your support will improve the health and well-being of thousands of people throughout the Upper Midwest this year.

Visit walmart.com/fighthunger and cast one vote per day for Second Harvest Heartland between September 15 and October 5.

Participating Agency Partner Programs:
North Anoka County Emergency Food Shelf (NACE), East Bethel
Neighborhood House, St. Paul
Manna Food Pantry, Worthington
Western Community Action – The Kitchen Table, Marshall
Monticello Help Center, Monticello
Pillsbury United Communities – Waite House & Brian Coyle Centers, Minneapolis
New Creation Baptist Church Food Shelf, Minneapolis
Southern Anoka Community Assistance (SACA) Food Shelf, Columbia Heights
Rescue Now Services: Good Works Food Shelf, Minneapolis

Stay Local for Hunger Action Month

September 11th, 2014

September is Hunger Action Month, and we’re asking you to help us fight hunger in our community—all month long. Thanks to the support of local businesses and organizations, it’s never been easier to participate in Hunger Action Month in fun and unique ways!

Attend a screening of The Starfish Throwers documentary
The Starfish Throwers documentary film will screen at The Film Society of Minneapolis St. Paul at St. Anthony Main Theatre from Friday, September 12 through Thursday, September 18. The award-winning project focuses on three passionate people fighting hunger, across the globe–in their own unique ways. The film features Minneapolis’ own “sandwich man” Allan Law. For more information, visit thestarfishthrowers.com.

Attend the Happy Hour for Hunger Relief fundraiser at Summit Brewing Company
Our friends at Summit Brewing Company are hosting a Happy Hour for Hunger Relief at the Summit Beer Hall on Saturday, September 20 from 4-9 pm. The event is free to attend, but make sure to bring a non-perishable food item for a free Summit pint glass, or a bag of groceries for a screen printed t-shirt on-site. Enjoy a specially-made Extra Pale Ale served with mandarin oranges, food from the Hot Indian food truck, and live music from The Dang Ol’ Tri’ole. For more information, visit www.summitbrewing.com.

Order the “Second Harvest Heartland” pizza at Galactic Pizza
Galactic Pizza donates $1 to Second Harvest Heartland every time a customer orders the namesake pizza, “The Second Harvest Heartland.” Stop by and help make a difference today (2917 Lyndale Ave S. in Minneapolis). For more information, visit www.galacticpizza.com.

Visit 2harvest.org/HAM for other ways to fight hunger this September.

Double Your Impact this September, Volunteer During the Double Down Challenge

September 8th, 2014

Help us hit our goal of 10,000 volunteer hours in September! Every hour you volunteer for Second Harvest Heartland will be matched with a $5 donation from Bremer Bank, up to a total of $50,000! That’s enough to provide 485,000 meals to our neighbors in need!

Getting involved is easy—gather some co-workers, family or friends and sign up to volunteer! Morning, afternoon, evening and even weekend shifts are available for both individual and group opportunities at different locations through the Twin Cities.

Visit 2harvest.org/volunteer to sign up for a volunteer shift today.

Visit 2harvest.org/ham to find other ways to get involved in Hunger Action Month.

Go Orange Today for Hunger Relief

September 4th, 2014

This week, we kick off Hunger Action Month, our month-long effort to turn the nation orange in support of hunger-relief.

Today, you can show your support by going orange for Hunger Action Day.

  • Take a picture and show all your friends that you believe we can solve hunger in our community.
  • Dedicate your Facebook and Twitter profiles to hunger awareness for the month.
  • Light up your home or workplace orange.
  • Sign up for a volunteers shift and contribute to the Double Down Challenge, where every hour you volunteer for Second Harvest Heartland during September will be matched with a $5 donation from Bremer Bank, up to a total of $50,000! Visit 2harvest.org/volunteer to sign up for a volunteer shift today.

For a list of all the ways you can get involved today, and every day this month, visit 2harvest.org/HAM.

How SNAP is Changing Lives

September 2nd, 2014

The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly known as food stamps) often provides a first line of defense against hunger in our communities—it enables households to pay for groceries during tough times, and allows individuals to purchase healthier food they may not have been able to afford on their own. But the reality is, one in four people who qualify for SNAP don’t access their benefits.

Second Harvest Heartland’s SNAP Outreach Program works with organizations in the community to help inform clients about this valuable food resource that already exists. Our SNAP Outreach Specialists increase awareness about the availability of SNAP benefits and provide enrollment assistance to eligible individuals and families.

We hear from these families every day about how grateful they are of our outreach specialists and of the program itself, and how it has changed their lives for the better. Below are some of those notes.

  • “I can finally go shopping at the grocery store for the first time in six years!”
  • “I finally can have some choice in what I eat.”
  • “I am a single father of three, and was just laid off from my job. I’m still trying to find full-time work, but this helps a lot. Thank you!”
  • “I am a senior who just lost my job after 19 years. SNAP has helped me stay strong and healthy while I look for more work.”

Need Assistance?
To contact a SNAP Outreach Specialist, please click here or call 651.209.7963 or toll free at 1.888.339.3663 ext 7963.

Help Feed Hungry Seniors in Your Community by Volunteering

August 28th, 2014

Seniors are one of the fastest-growing populations that Second Harvest Heartland serves: visits by seniors to Second Harvest Heartland’s food shelf partners have increased more than 60 percent since 2008.

Here at Second Harvest Heartland, we rely on volunteers to help get more food to seniors in our community so they can maintain their health, independence and general well-being.

The Commodity Supplemental Food Program (CSFP) at Second Harvest Heartland provides a monthly box of wholesome food to more than 9,000 seniors. This year, we opened nearly 15 new distribution sites, and continue working to better serve underrepresented areas in the metro area and greater Minnesota.

Volunteers provide crucial support to the CSFP program:

  • Navigating the CSFP registration process can be overwhelming to clients. Phone Application Assistants register senior citizens for eligibility in the CSFP program.
  • Drive-Thru Assistants help seniors and family members pick up their monthly CSFP food box in the Maplewood drive-thru. Each month, volunteers help clients pick up 1,800 boxes of groceries!
  • Grocery Delivery volunteers deliver a CSFP food box to homebound senior citizens once a month.
  • Grocery Distribution Assistants work at area CSFP box distribution sites where seniors receive a monthly box of groceries, making it possible for seniors to get free groceries close to home.

We need you! Help feed hungry seniors in your community by signing up for a volunteer shift here.

Do You Know a Senior Who Could Use a Little More Food Each Month?

August 25th, 2014

Every day, one in seven seniors in Minnesota is faced with the dilemma of not having enough money to pay for food, rent, utilities, medical bills and prescriptions. At times, support from family and friends is just not enough, and they are unable to stretch their dollar far enough to purchase enough food.

Adequate nutrition is essential for this vulnerable population to maintain active, healthy lives. Second Harvest Heartland is committed to identifying and assisting seniors who are at risk of going hungry through the Commodity Supplemental Food Program (CSFP). Through this program, we provide a free, monthly box of wholesome food to income-eligible seniors to support their health and wellbeing.

But we need your help.

If you know a senior who could use a little more food each month, help them access the free food they may be eligible for*. Call 651.484.8241 or toll free at 1.800.365.0270, email CSFP@2harvest.org or visit 2harvest.org/CSFP to help a special senior in your life today.

*Minnesota residents who are 60 years and older and at or below 130% of the poverty level.

Hidden Hungry in Rural Communities

August 22nd, 2014

Often when one thinks about hunger, it is easy to consider it an urban issue.  However, rural Minnesota families miss 40 million meals each year.

During the FarmFest event held August 5 – 7 in Morgan, Minn., our employees and volunteers were grateful to hear stories about those receiving support and many heartfelt thanks for spreading the word about how farmers can get involved in ending hunger in their communities—because even if hidden, it does exist.

One of these stories was from Tom, a disabled farmer from southern Minnesota.  Tom was in an accident a few years ago and sustained injuries that have prevented him to return to work.

“I never thought I’d be in a situation where I needed help, but I am thankful the food shelf was there,” said Tom. “It amazes me that my neighbors don’t think there is a problem in our community, but I saw more people at the food shelf the first time I visited than I ever thought would be there.”

Although Tom is not in a position to give right now, like us, he believes that farmers across Minnesota are part of the solution to the hunger problem in our state.  He is excited to share the opportunity for his friends and neighbors to get involved in supporting Harvest to End Hunger Minnesota.

To learn more about opportunities for farmers of both edible and non-edible crops to give, visit HarvestToEndHungerMN.org or call 877.547.0245.

Farm to Foodshelf Grant Helps Bring More Produce to Families in Need This Summer

August 21st, 2014

As the “produce capture” season begins, we’re starting to gather hundreds of thousands of pounds of fresh fruits and vegetables from farmers in our region. New financial support is now available via the “Farm to Foodshelf” grant—a $2 million appropriation funded by the State of Minnesota, to help Minnesota agricultural producers and processors offset the cost to harvest and package their donated fruits and vegetables that would otherwise go unharvested or be discarded.

So far this harvest season, we’ve received 1.1 million pounds of produce—double the amount of produce we collected at this time last year.

So where does the produce go? The fresh food is delivered to food shelves and other meal programs across the state, by the six Feeding America food banks serving Minnesota, including Second Harvest Heartland. Neighborhood House, a social service agency serving immigrants, refugees and low-income populations in St. Paul, is just one of those agency partner programs that benefits from donated produce. Already this year, Neighborhood House has distributed 182,517 pounds of produce to 3,015 households consisting of 14,295 individuals—half of which are children.

According to Christine Miller, food support manager at Neighborhood House, the number of community members needing food shelf assistance is increasing. And while the agency’s food shelf’s donations are also increasing, they are not increasing fast enough to meet the demand.

“That’s why extra produce (available through Second Harvest Heartland) is so important,” said Christine. “Eligible families may access food shelf services here one time per month; we’re seeing them come back before the month is over in need of more food—this is especially true during the summer months when kids are home from school and needs to eat three meals at home. This extra produce helps supplement the food they’re already getting from the food shelf.”

Above are photos from a recent produce distribution day at the Neighborhood House food shelf. Bags of corn, potatoes, greens, cucumbers, green beans and peppers were distributed to eligible families; the waiting line stretched around the building and down the street.

We have only just begun!
With at least two more months of the harvest season to come, we have only just begun! Thanks to the State of Minnesota, all the farmers and growers who have donated produce, food shelf staff, Feeding America food banks serving the state, and everyone who has had a part in this exciting program.

Mankato Kids Get VIP Access to Vikings Training Camp

August 18th, 2014

Thanks to the Vikings Children’s Fund Summer Lunch Program, 30 kids got VIP access to the Vikings Training Camp on Monday, August 4. The kids—participants in the summer meal program out of the Echo Foodshelf in Mankato—got on the field to view the Vikings practice, played in the Kids Zone, danced with mascot Viktor the Viking and enjoyed a wholesome lunch. But perhaps the best part of the day was when Vikings players Audie Cole and Charlie Johnson stopped by to sign autographs.

The Vikings Children’s Fund Summer Lunch Program helps secure meals for Minnesota children ages 1 to 18 each summer.

We’d like to offer a big thanks to the Minnesota Vikings’ leadership for all you do to support hungry kids in our community! See all of our photos from the training camp here.

Take Action This September for Hunger Action Month

August 15th, 2014

This September, people across the nation will step up and join the fight against hunger as part of Hunger Action Month. As a supporter of Second Harvest Heartland, you already know that hunger is more prevalent than ever: 1 in 10 people in your neighborhood is at risk of going without a meal today. But together, we can do something about it.

There are many ways for you to get involved this September; we hope you won’t choose just one. From volunteering for the Double Down Challenge to wearing orange for hunger, you can make a big impact with a few simple actions.

Double Your Impact with the Double Down Challenge
Help us hit our goal of 10,000 volunteer hours during the month of September. Every hour you volunteer for Second Harvest Heartland will be matched with a $5 donation from Bremer Bank, up to a total of $50,000! That’s enough to provide 485,000 meals to our neighbors in need! Sign up for a volunteer shift at 2harvest.org/volunteer.

Go Orange
September 4th is Hunger Action Day. Show your support by wearing orange on the 4th, and all month long.

  • Personally: Order your $6 Hunger Action Month t-shirt and be sure to wear it on the 4th and all month long!
  • Physically: Light up your home or workplace orange.
  • Virtually: Dedicate your Facebook and Twitter to hunger awareness for the month. Check 2harvest.org/ham for ideas.
  • Happy Hour for Hunger Relief: Our friends at Summit Brewing Company are hosting a Happy Hour for Hunger Relief at their St. Paul beer hall on Saturday, September 20 from 4-9 pm, to help raise awareness of hunger. The event is free to attend, but make sure to bring a non-perishable food item for a free Summit pint glass, or a bag of groceries for a screen printed t-shirt on-site. Enjoy a specially-made Extra Pale Ale served with mandarin oranges, food from the Hot Indian food truck, and live music from The Dan Ol’ Tri’ole band.

Create Awareness

For more information about Hunger Action Month or how to get involved, visit 2harvest.org/ham.

Volunteer Spotlight of the Month: Carolyn Sayers

August 13th, 2014

When asked why she volunteers, Carolyn Sayers says that giving back was just how she was raised.

Her parents’ stories of seeing people standing in food lines during the Great Depression made a powerful impression on her, and she learned early on to clean her plate and take care of others.

Now retired after a long career as a public school teacher, Carolyn volunteers several times a month at Second Harvest Heartland. She splits her time between sorting donated food at the Golden Valley warehouse, and distributing groceries to local elementary school students through the Meals for Minds program.

And while Carolyn sees the need for emergency food increasing in some places, she is happy to see a new generation of volunteers joining the fight to end hunger.

“It’s really great to be able to see families volunteering together—especially young kids. When I was raising my kids, it was hard to find those opportunities. It’s beautiful to see,” says Carolyn. “People of all ages are needed. The kids who volunteer really have fun. It exposes them to other people’s needs, and makes them feel important.”

Carolyn encourages others to give volunteering a try: it’s fun, easy and good exercise. Most importantly, volunteers like Carolyn see the direct impact that food has on the lives of the families, children and seniors that Second Harvest Heartland serves.

“It’s good to see the smiles and how much people benefit, as well as hear sincere thank yous,” says Carolyn.

To find volunteer opportunities for you, visit 2harvest.org/volunteer.

SNAP Success Stories

August 11th, 2014

One in four people who qualify for SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, formerly food stamps) don’t access their benefits. This year, our team of SNAP outreach specialists screened more than 11,500 households and successfully assisted and submitted more than 3,000 applications, helping connect more people with more food in their time of need. Below are a few stories of their successes.

Your Gifts Work Hard

August 6th, 2014

In the fight to end hunger, we know every donation makes a difference. That’s why we always strive to make the biggest impact possible with your generous contributions. The majority of our operating revenue comes from generous individual, foundation, and corporate donors, but there are many ways to help.

Farm to Foodshelf Grant a New Opportunity for Minnesota Farmers

August 5th, 2014

Farmers can make a big difference for the more than 600,000 hungry seniors, children and working families in Minnesota this harvest season. The six Feeding America food banks serving Minnesota are part of a surplus produce program with local farmers, ShareFresh MN, which moves millions of pounds of excess produce out of the fields neighbors in need statewide. And now, there is a new reason to consider participation, made possible through the “Farm to Foodshelf” grant – a new $2 million appropriation funded by the Minnesota Legislature, to help agricultural producers and processors offset the cost to harvest and package their donated fruits and vegetables that would otherwise go unharvested or be discarded.

If you are a Minnesota agricultural producer or processor, you can donate through this program. Produce must be “surplus that would otherwise go unharvested or discarded.” Edible and commonly used produce such as potatoes, sweet corn, cabbage, cantaloupe, onions, carrots, squash and others are welcome. Of course, food must meet safety standards and be fit for human consumption.

Consider donating! For more information about how to participate, reimbursements for harvest and packaging for transfer, how donated excess produce gets from a farm to a food bank or food shelf and more, please call (877) 547-0245, email produce@2harvest.org or check out our FAQ. Farm to Foodshelf is funded by the State of Minnesota.

Thanks to Bremer Bank for Providing Meals for Many for 9 Years!

July 31st, 2014

On behalf of the families, children and seniors we serve – thank you to Bremer Bank and those who helped make the 2014 Meals for Many campaign a huge success!  With the support of donors across Minnesota, Wisconsin and North Dakota the Meals for Many campaign raised a total of more than $96,000.

During the two-week campaign, Bremer Bank matched donations at a $2-for-$1 match up to a total of $35,000. Individuals also had the opportunity to test their knowledge about hunger with the Meals for Many quiz, created by Software for Good.   For every quiz completed, Bremer Bank donated $1, raising an additional $2,100 in match dollars to contribute to the total. These donations will be distributed to Second Harvest Heartland and the other Feeding America food banks serving Minnesota.

Thank you Bremer Bank for your continued support of hunger relief throughout Minnesota!

Who Is Hungry?

July 30th, 2014

There is a hidden epidemic around us called hunger. In Minnesota and Western Wisconsin, one in ten people experience the stress of hunger on any given day, even though there is more than enough food available to feed everyone. Hunger touches all of us through increased mental and physical health costs every year, as well as lower educational outcomes for kids and reduced productivity in the workplace.

Hunger affects more people than ever before — approximately 600,000 people in our area each year. Many are using a food shelf for the first time in their lives, struggling to make ends meet.

We’re passionate in our belief that we can end hunger. But we can’t do it alone. With your support, we can feed more people and help our neighbors find a bridge to stability during tough times. Visit 2harvest.org for ways to help.

Farmers Invited to Help Feed Minnesota’s Hungry

July 29th, 2014

Minnesota farmers have an opportunity this fall to help solve a rising but little known problem affecting rural communities throughout the state.  Next week, Second Harvest Heartland will be representing the six Feeding America food banks serving Minnesota at FarmFest in Morgan, Minn., to engage farmers in Invest an Acre.

This year in rural Minnesota, families will miss 40 million meals. Minnesota farmers already play a significant role in food production for the state, country and world. But a need still exists and in rural communities hunger is often hidden.

Feeding America’s Invest an Acre program turns farmer contributions into meals for local families. Farmers can get involved in two ways; they can make a cash donation now or pledge to make a donation from this year’s crop at harvest. Farmers do not need to give a final commitment until the crops are at the elevator.

Volunteers will be present at the FarmFest booth, asking farmers to pledge revenue from an acre, bushel or any amount of their 2014 crop to help fight hunger in their own communities. When harvest nears, farmers will be reminded to go online to create a donation form to bring to their local elevator with their grain donation. One hundred percent of the donation stays in the farmer’s community, and all of the money goes directly to provide food to hungry families. The Monsanto Company is matching every donation nationally, dollar for dollar, up to $675,000.

Participating food banks include: Channel One Regional Food Bank, Great Plains Food Bank, North Country Food Bank, Inc., Second Harvest Heartland, Second Harvest North Central Food Bank and Second Harvest Northern Lakes Food Bank.

To learn more about Invest an Acre and Harvest to End Hunger Minnesota, visit www.HarvestToEndHungerMN.org.

For more information about FarmFest, please visit the event page at www.ideaggroup.com/farmfest.