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.

The New Face of Hunger

July 28th, 2014

Why are people malnourished in America, even though there is more than enough food available to feed everyone? Read an insightful National Geographic Magazine feature, The New Face of Hunger, that digs deep into hunger in three different American communities.

Locally—one of our partners, Loaves and Fishes—served a record 41,000 free meals during June—the largest demand during one month in the agency’s history. Read the entire Minnesota Public Radio story here.

You can help us solve hunger
Join us as partners in our work to close the missing meal gap by donating funds, food or volunteer time. Together, all of us can give our neighbors the hope and stability they need. Visit us at 2harvest.org.

There’s Still Time to Help Summer Meet Its Match!

July 23rd, 2014

Hunger is an issue every month, but the demand for food assistance is high during the summer months when donations are at their lowest. Today, 1 in 10 people in Minnesota and western Wisconsin experience the stress of hunger every day, and need your help this summer.

You can help us, help them—when they need it the most, by becoming a Monthly Giver today. And if you act now, we’ll a generous donor will match your first 3 months, dollar for dollar!

Your monthly gift goes a long way!

Thanks to $5,000 in matching funds, your first 3 months of gifts can be DOUBLED when you become a Monthly Giver before July 31, 2014.*

Just $10 each month can provide 37 meals. And with the match, you can provide more than 220 meals in just three months!

This summer, help us provide hope to our hungry neighbors by becoming a Monthly Giver.

By making a donation each month, you’ll have a tremendous impact on our mission to end hunger in our community. Our Monthly Giving program is a source of consistent, reliable support we can depend on in the future.

Our Monthly Giving program is easy to join. Become a Monthly Giver and your donations will be processed automatically. You can change your contribution at any time online or by phone.

Please partner with us monthly to ensure that hungry children, families and seniors in our community have food on the table when they need it most this summer. Become a Monthly Giver today and DOUBLE your impact for the next 3 months!

*Good until July 31, 2014 or up to $5,000 met in matching funds.

Land O’Lakes Donates 40,000 Pounds of Macaroni and Cheese

July 21st, 2014

Last Friday, Land O’Lakes stopped by the Second Harvest Heartland warehouse in Maplewood with a truckload of macaroni and cheese from their First Run program. This 40,000 pound donation, raised the total pounds donated by Land O’Lakes in 2014 to nearly 115,000 pounds – the equivalent of more than 89,000 meals.

This is the Land O’Lakes First Run Program’s eighty-second donation, nationwide, since it was established in 2010. The program is committed to donating truckloads of fresh product year round, made specifically for food banks to help alleviate hunger. As part of the First Run Program, Land O’Lakes has donated more than 2.8 million pounds of product to Feeding America food banks across the country.

“As a national, farmer-owned cooperative, Land O’Lakes is committed to help the growing number of people who struggle to put food on their table,” said Land O’Lakes Foundation Executive Director Lydia Botham. “The First Run program provides a unique opportunity for Land O’Lakes to provide a fresh, nutritious product to families that can enjoy it.”

Land O’Lakes and Second Harvest Heartland have a partnership that goes beyond products donated through the First Run Program and includes significant financial support and employee volunteerism.

This year, Land O’Lakes has generously donated $35,000 in support of Let’s Kick Hunger WCCO Radiothon and our annual gala – Dish: Cuisine for Change and their employees have contributed a total of 564 volunteer hours. We would like to thank Land O’Lakes for this First Run donation and the many other contributions made throughout the year.

Learn more about opportunities to donate food or your time with Second Harvest Heartland visit 2harvest.org/howtohelp.

Food Mania Challengers Help Provide 150,000 Meals

July 17th, 2014

Each year, local businesses rally to participate in a friendly food fight called Food Mania to help raise funds and collect food for Second Harvest Heartland.  This year, Food Mania competitors raised over $37,000, more than 365 volunteer hours, and collected 4,246 pounds of food items to distribute to those who are hungry in our community. That is enough to provide more than 150,000 meals to our neighbors in need!

From all of us at Second Harvest Heartland and on behalf of those we serve, sincere thanks to Eide Bailly; O’Meara Leer Wagner & Kohl, and Schwan’s Consumer Brands and all of the challenger companies who participated.

For more information on hosting your own Food & Fund drive, visit 2harvest.org/drive.

FOOD MANIA 2014 WINNERS

SECTOR OVERALL FIRST PLACE WINNERS
Accounting: Eide Bailly
Food: Schwan’s Consumer Brands
Law: O’Meara Leer Wagner & Kohl
Kitchen Sink: TCI Business Capital

SECTOR PER CAPITA FIRST PLACE WINNERS
Accounting: Eide Bailly
Food: Schwan’s Consumer Brands
Law: O’Meara Leer Wagner & Kohl
Kitchen Sink: TCI Business Capital

100% PARTICIPATION:
Arthur Chapman Kettering Smetak & Pikala
City & County Credit Union
O’Meara Leer Wagner & Kohl
Wilford Geske & Cook

ROOKIE AWARD
TCI Business Capital

What Happens When Food Passes Its Peak at the Grocery Store?

July 16th, 2014

At retail grocery stores, unsold produce that has passed its peak is regularly removed from shelves to make space for newer, fresher produce. So what happens to this perfectly edible food once it is removed from the store shelves?

Second Harvest Heartland’s Food Rescue Program partners with retail grocers in our communities to divert food being removed from their store shelves to help feed hungry people. Every day, the professional Food Rescue Fleet and our trained food shelf partners collect thousands of pounds of produce, dairy, deli, meat, bakery, and grocery items from more than 275 grocery retail partners. This donated product is distributed to food shelves, soup kitchens and shelters throughout Second Harvest Heartland’s 59 county service area.

A CBS Minnesota news article reports how one local retail grocer, Cub Foods, donates its less-than-perfect food products to Second Harvest Heartland and local food shelves to help feed those in our community who are hungry.

In 2013, Cub stores in the Twin Cities donated more than 9 million pounds of fresh food as part of the Retail Food Rescue program. With Cub’s help, the Retail Food Rescue program represents nearly 40 percent of Second Harvest Heartland total food distribution—a food stream that provides many wholesome and fresh foods.

Thank you to Cub Foods and all of our dedicated retail grocer partners for your commitment to helping us end hunger.

A Good Reminder of Why We Do What We Do

July 15th, 2014

We never know who in our daily work we’re going to touch…until we hear from them. That’s why an unexpected thank you note we received last week touched us so deeply. A client’s note of gratitude—presented below—reminded us why we do what we do: to make sure all of our hungry neighbors have enough food to live healthy and fulfilling lives.

Find out how you can directly help people like the client above at 2harvest.org.

What Does Hunger Mean to Local Kids?

July 9th, 2014

What does being hungry mean to local kids? We asked kids from the Boys and Girls Club of the Twin Cities, one of the many programs we serve, to share with us what being hungry means to them and how it makes them feel. Their answers are below; please read and consider how you can help kids in our community get the food they need to stay strong and healthy this summer.

What does hunger mean to you?

“Not getting enough food to eat to make you feel full.”
- Desiree*, sixth grade

“Going a long time without eating so you are hungry. Sometimes there is no food around to eat and I get hungry.”
- Penny*, sixth grade

“That you don’t have food.”
- Darian*, second grade

“Hunger is when you can’t eat because there is no food.”
- Alyssa*, first grade

“I know people who are hungry who can’t get food. It’s sad that this happens.”
- Natasha*, sixth grade

How do you feel when you feel hungry?

“My stomach hurts.”
- Marcus*, fourth grade

“I feel like I’m sick.”
- Amy*, fifth grade

“My stomach grumbles and yells at me.”
- Zach*, fourth grade

“I feel like a dinosaur looking for food.”
- Brian*, third grade

“I just think about food all the time.”
- Jill*, fourth grade

Find out how you can help hungry children in your neighborhood at 2harvest.org, or donate today to have an immediate and direct impact.

*Names have been changed