Food as Medicine: The Intersection of Hunger and Health

October 21st, 2014

When Darla was diagnosed with heart disease and type 2 diabetes two years ago, she knew she needed to improve her health through diet. But with Darla’s limited income, she couldn’t afford the fruits and vegetables she knew she needed. So when she discovered a weekly produce distribution site in her South Minneapolis neighborhood, she was hopeful.

“With the boxes of fresh produce I get from the foodshelf, I’m able to manage my heart condition and keep my diabetes under the control. I just can’t afford healthy food and pay for my medications at the same time.”

Why Food Access and Nutrition Matter
Darla’s situation is similar to many who struggle with food insecurity. Research has found that proper nutrition and access to food play an important role in prevention, treatment and recovery for many health conditions, which can be challenging for high-need patients. A 2010 study by the Food Industry Center at the University of Minnesota, reported that the effects of hunger annually cost the Minnesota economy at least $1.26 billion in medical and health care costs.

In spite of the connection between food access, nutrition and health, the health care system and hunger relief systems have historically functioned largely apart from each other. Non-profits in hunger relief do not reach nearly all people who need food, and health care providers serve many food insecure patients who could be connected to food support, which could play an important role in their health outcomes.

The Opportunity: Better Health, Less Hunger
The Boston Consulting Group (BCG) has analyzed the potential for greater integration between health care and hunger relief and indicates that if the medical and hunger relief sectors partner to increase access to healthy foods, Minnesota’s 100 million missing meal gap could potentially be reduced by 25 percent or more.

“Hospitals are seeing large numbers of food insecure patients, but most are not participating in any food relief programs. If we can get those providers engaged and asking the right questions, there’s an opportunity to provide wider-reaching food relief services that can be convenient and comfortable for clients,” said Rob Zeaske, CEO, Second Harvest Heartland.

Projects and Pilots at the Intersection
How can hunger relief and health care work in tandem? In Minnesota and around the country, a few initiatives and pilots are already in place—from clinics developing food insecurity screening tools that lead to patient referrals to food shelves or a SNAP application process, to food banks identifying clients with type 2 diabetes and providing appropriate food, nutrition and health education.

Locally, the Hennepin County Medical Center (HCMC) provides an onsite food shelf in the form of a Therapeutic Food Pharmacy to high-need patients, with some food provided by Second Harvest Heartland. Diana Cutts, MD, Department of Pediatrics, HCMC and Assistant Professor of Pediatrics at the University of Minnesota, helped launch the foodshelf in 2010.

“One third of families that I see are food insecure,” said Dr. Cutts. “Do I always think about hunger when I’m seeing a kid for repeated ear infections? Logically, I know infections and food insecurity are related, but I don’t always think about it. So having an onsite resource available like the food pharmacy is valuable.”

Join us at Taste of the Vikings and Help Provide up to 525 Meals to Underserved Minnesota Children

October 17th, 2014

Help us kick childhood hunger at the annual Taste of the Vikings on Tuesday, November 4, 2014!

The fundraising food and wine event will feature appearances by current Vikings players, coaches and alumni. Sample specially prepared dishes from more than 20 of the area’s top restaurants, and enjoy complimentary premium wines from E&J Gallo, Miller and Pepsi products and one-of-a-kind silent auction items.

The price of one general admission ticket can help provide up to 525 meals to underserved children in Minnesota!

Buy your tickets today at vikings.com/tasteofthevikings.

Cause and Effects: Commodity Supplemental Food Program

October 15th, 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. Many seniors are on fixed incomes and are faced with making tough decisions between food and other necessities.

The USDA’s Commodity Supplemental Food Program (CSFP), administered by Second Harvest Heartland
in the food bank’s service area, provides a monthly box of wholesome food to more than 9,000 seniors in
Minnesota. This year, we opened 15 NEW DISTRIBUTION SITES, and continue working to better serve
underrepresented areas in the metro area and parts of greater Minnesota.

Voices of Hunger Relief

October 13th, 2014

Joining the Second Harvest Heartland team in January 2014, Greta Gauthier brings a breadth of knowledge and passion to the Director of Advocacy role.

“My family has supported Second Harvest Heartland for years,” said Greta. “It feels good to put my education and experience to use working with Congress and the State Legislature, while helping solve the issues I feel passionate about.”

With the recognition that we can’t do our work alone, Greta’s role is to strategically increase the visibility of Second Harvest Heartland and the issue of hunger in public policy arenas like state agencies, the Governor’s office and the Legislature—and to enlist public sector support.

“Bringing people together in the Legislature to help them recognize hunger in their own districts and in the state helps them understand that, with commitment and organization, hunger is truly a solvable problem,” said Greta.

Within her first five months, Greta supported the enactment of the Farm to Foodshelf Bill—a $2 million appropriation from the Minnesota Legislature—to help move fresh produce that would otherwise go unharvested or be discarded into the emergency food system. The six Feeding America foods banks serving Minnesota already had been capturing such produce through the Share Fresh MN program, which was a pilot program.

The new Farm to Foodshelf grant provides funds to help agricultural producers and processors in Minnesota offset the costs to harvest and package donated fruits and vegetables.

“With the Farm to Foodshelf grant in place, Second Harvest Heartland and our partners will be able to move millions of pounds of food to food shelves and meal programs across the state,” said Greta. “Being a part of making that happen has been really wonderful.”

Moving forward, Greta’s work will also be focused on encouraging added cross-sector partnerships and driving innovations to connect more children to summer feeding programs and more individuals to SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program).

“My goal is to get more fresh food to our hungry neighbors in need,” said Greta.

What’s the Most Important Gift You Can Give This Holiday Season? The Gift of a Meal.

October 6th, 2014

If you’re like most families in the heartland, you’ll sit down this holiday season and enjoy a festive feast surrounded by loved ones. But thousands of Minnesota families will rely on their local food shelf for a simple holiday meal. With your help, we can make the holidays a little brighter for families in need.

Please consider hosting a Food & Fund Drive this holiday season—an easy and low-cost way you can help us keep our neighbors hunger-free during this stressful time.

Anyone can host a Food & Fund Drive, and each drive can be custom-built to fit your abilities. With our virtual Food & Fund Drives, it’s never been easier to make a huge impact on the communities we serve in just a few clicks!

For more information or to register your Food & Fund Drive, visit 2harvest.org/drive.

Hunger Action Month Challenges Accepted—Thank You!

October 1st, 2014

Thank you to all who volunteered, donated food, made a financial contribution or accepted our Go Orange challenge during Hunger Action Month!

Going Orange
We asked members of our community to Go Orange on September 4 for Hunger Action Day, and we were blown away by the response and dedication of local businesses and individuals who helped raise awareness of hunger in our communities.

How’d they do it? Here are just a few ways:

  • The Cities of Minneapolis, Saint Paul, Golden Valley, Maplewood and Vadnais Heights all officially proclaimed September as Hunger Action Month;
  • The Minneapolis 35W and Lowry Avenue bridges were lit orange;
  • Summit Brewery hosted a Happy Hour for Hunger Relief, where they collected food and financial donations at their beer hall;
  • Galactic Pizza donated $1 to Second Harvest Heartland every time a customer ordered the namesake pizza, “The Second Harvest Heartland”;
  • And countless individuals also went orange by lighting their homes or businesses orange, dedicating their Facebook or Twitter pages orange, and wearing orange.

Double Down Challenge was Met!
Every volunteer hour completed for Second Harvest Heartland during the month of September was matched with a $5 donation by our generous Double Down Challenge sponsor, Bremer Bank! And thanks to those who donated more than 10,000 hours of their time, the challenge was met and a matching donation of $50,000 was made, providing an additional 185,000 meals.

But We Still Need You!
Hunger Action Month may be over, but we still need your help! Visit 2harvest.org to find ways you can fight hunger all year long.

Fun Ways to Fight Hunger This Fall

September 30th, 2014

Every dollar, every food item and every donated hour matters. Join us this fall in one of our many campaigns, events, volunteer opportunities or fundraisers, and truly make a difference in the lives of our hungry neighbors.

Below are just some of the ways you can help fight hunger this fall.

Cub Cares
Cub Foods and Gopher Athletics have teamed up to launch Cub Cares, a hunger awareness program generating community support for Second Harvest Heartland and area food banks. From Sunday, October 12 to Saturday, October 25, customers will be asked to round up their purchase at the checkout register as a donation to help fight hunger in their community. Look for the Round Up sign featuring Goldy Gopher and Round Up during Cub Cares!

For more information, visit cub.com.

City Pages Iron Fork
Thursday, November 6 | 7-10pm International Market Square
Cuisine, cocktails and competition! Feast on an eclectic variety of cuisine from over 25 local restaurants. Cheer on six chefs battling to create the most appetizing dish with a secret ingredient revealed that night. Watch top local bartenders vie for the title of “Absolut Mixologist.” Tickets include food, beer, wine, bubbly and liquor sampling, and proceeds benefit Second Harvest Heartland.

Purchase general admission or VIP tickets at citypages.com/ironfork.

Walk to End Hunger
Thursday, November 27, 2014 | 7am-10am Mall of America
Give back before giving thanks this Thanksgiving! Take part in the Walk to End Hunger, a fun 5k walk for the whole family. Two rides at Nickelodeon Universe will be open for walkers and the route will have music, balloon animals, Santa and craft areas for kids. Sign up to walk with Team Second Harvest Heartland, start your own walk team or give a donation of thanks.

For more details, visit 2harvest.org/walk.

Virtual Food & Fund Drives
Ongoing | Online
Start an online Food & Fund Drive, and make a huge impact on the communities we serve in just a few clicks! Anyone can host a Food & Fund Drive, and each drive can be custom-built to fit your abilities.

Start your Food & Fund Drive today at 2harvest.org/drive.

For a full list of upcoming events, visit 2harvest.org/events.

Help Fight Senior Hunger in October

September 29th, 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. Many seniors are on fixed incomes and are faced with making tough decisions between food and other necessities.

That’s why we’ve teamed up with UnitedHealthcare and WCCO-TV again this year to help our neighbors who are seniors realize that there are programs available that can help them get the food they need.

Now through October 19th, you’ll see Public Service Announcements and other promotions on WCCO-TV that will encourage seniors and their caregivers to connect with resources like food shelf locations and information, congregant dining and transportation options and more. New this year is an opportunity for everyone to support seniors experiencing hunger. For donations made now through October 31, UnitedHealthcare will match them $1-for-$1 up to $40,000.

Hunger is a fact of life for many Minnesota seniors, and thousands do not know where they’ll find their next meal. We’re fortunate to have great partners in UnitedHealthcare and WCCO-TV to help raise awareness about the issue of senior hunger, and connect those in need with the programs and resources that can help.

Visit 2harvest.org/seniorhelp to learn more about senior hunger, find local resources or make your donation.

Canstruction: Together, We CAN Make a Difference

September 26th, 2014

This Saturday and Sunday, come out to the Mall of America to vote for your favorite colossal sculptures built from thousands of ordinary cans of food—all of which will be donated to Second Harvest Heartland!

Canstruction, a national charity committed to ending hunger, is a unique design/build competition where local design firms go head-to-head to see who can create the most artistic sculpture out of canned goods. The annual event, presented by the American Institute of Architects and the Society of Design Administration, is a way to showcase local designers and collect food for food shelves all at the same time.

You can check out all of the sculptures and vote for your favorite through the weekend at the Mall of America Rotunda. All of the food used in the event will be donated to Second Harvest Heartland and our network of food shelves. Mall of America visitors are also encouraged to make a financial donation at the event.

Thanks to those who are participating or just visiting Canstruction this weekend – all of which helps build awareness of hunger in our community! Together, we CAN make a difference.

Click here for more information.

Local Kids “Make Choices” About Hunger

September 25th, 2014

In a classroom at Breck Middle School in Golden Valley, Minn., a student stacks 15 candies on top of each other with care, preparing for the moment when he could enjoy them.

The classroom just finished the “Making Choices” budget simulation activity from the Guide to Hands-on Learning, a collection of educational activities Second Harvest Heartland created to teach kids about hunger.

In “Making Choices,” a roll of candies represents the budget that a family of four has to spend on meeting basic needs like housing, transportation and food. The activity helps students imagine what hungry seniors, families and children are experiencing so they understand the impact volunteering can have more deeply.

As the kids play, they quickly realize their candy budget simply wouldn’t cover all their needs and debate how they should allocate their funds.

“I guess I’m going without healthcare,” one of the students said, pushing more candies to housing so his family could afford a two-bedroom home.

This opens up a discussion with the students as to how the cost of food is connected to other needs like housing, transportation and childcare. After the students plan their budgets, they discuss how the cost of food is connected to other needs like housing, transportation and childcare.

You can find the full Guide to Hands-on Learning here and use these activities to teach youth about fighting hunger.

Got Milk?

September 22nd, 2014

Milk is the top nutritious food or beverage product requested by food shelf clients, according to a recent Feeding America survey. However, nearly half of food banks get fewer than 24 gallons of milk donated per week.

To get more dairy products to local households in need, the National Dairy Council recently awarded Second Harvest Heartland a $10,000 grant. Funds will be used to source more milk, cheese, yogurt and other dairy items that we can send to our network of food shelves.

To learn how you can help bring even more milk to local food shelves, please visit The Great American Milk Drive.

The National Dairy Council has been a partner of Feeding America since 2012.

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.