Archive for the ‘General Interest’ Category

Preview 2013 Canstruction at the Minnesota State Fair

Wednesday, August 21st, 2013

If you’re heading to the Minnesota State Fair this year, make sure to stop by The Agriculture Horticulture building to see colossal sculptures built from thousands of ordinary cans of food. The sculptures on display are from past Canstruction competitions, the annual creative and competitive event that pits together teams to design and build sculptures out of canned food to benefit local food banks.

Learn more about this year’s Canstruction event, scheduled for October 5-7 at the Mall of America, here.

Community Outreach Programs: Helping Our Neighbors in Need

Monday, August 19th, 2013

More than 600,000 people in Minnesota are hungry, and visits to food shelves have doubled in the past five years. As the demand for food assistance continues to rise, Second Harvest Heartland is working not only to collect and distribute more food to our neighbors in need, but also by investing in community outreach programs that help increase food security for the hungry.

Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) Outreach
One in three people who qualify for SNAP (formerly called food stamps) don’t access their benefits. Our team of outreach specialists break down barriers through screening and applications assistance, helping connect more people with more food in their time of need.

Meals for Minds School Pantry Program
With funding from Target, we distribute food at schools in high-need areas across the Twin Cities each month during the school year through Meals for Minds. Families can receive groceries for each child enrolled at school.

Summer Food Service Program (SFSP)
During school, approximately 375,000 Minnesota children received free or reduced-price meals. But when summer arrives, only about 20 percent of these kids continue to access similar meal programs. To fill this gap, we team up with the Minnesota Department of Education to help connect kids with summer meals.

Commodity Supplemental Food Program (CSFP)
Each month, we provide a box of nutritious food to income-eligible women, children and seniors 60 years and over, through the Nutritional Assistance Program for Seniors (NAPS) and MAC (Mothers and Children).

Find more information on the programs above or how you can become involved by contacting Second Harvest Heartland here today.

New and Expanding Food Rescue Programs Bring More Food to our Neighbors in Need

Wednesday, August 14th, 2013

Second Harvest Heartland is always looking to find new sources of fresh, wholesome food for our neighbors in need. This past year marked some significant milestones for several of our new and expanding pioneering programs, and we’re excited to share them with you.

Harvest to Home
Harvest to Home is an agricultural surplus program that gathers and distributes crops that would otherwise go unharvested. In 2012, more than 4.3 million pounds of surplus produce was collected, compared to 2.3 million pounds in 2011. The highlight in 2012 was the rescue of 600,000 of surplus fresh sweet corn. Plans are in place to get even more of this great sweet corn this summer.

Pallet-of-the-Month Club
The Pallet-of-the-Month Club features donations of first-run, newly produced product on a pallet-per-month basis from nine local food manufacturers, translating into 390,000 meals a year.

Food Rescue Program

The Food Rescue Program is the fastest-growing source of food at Second Harvest Heartland, as it collects food donations from more than 300 retail stores in the region.

Prepared Food Rescue
Still in the development stage, this pilot program will facilitate the rescue of edible and nutritious prepared food from hotels, restaurants and other food service providers.

For more information about these programs or how you can become involved, contact Second Harvest Heartland here today.

Hunger Action Month: Together We Can Solve Hunger!

Monday, August 12th, 2013

This September, people across the nation will step up and join the fight against hunger in our communities 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 some simple actions.

Double Down will Double Your Impact
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 185,000 meals to our neighbors in need! Learn how you can take action at

Go Orange
September 5th is the national hunger awareness day. Show your support by wearing orange on the 5th, and all month long.
Virtually: dedicate your Facebook and Twitter to hunger awareness for the month. Check out our Facebook page for ideas.
Personally: Order your $5 Hunger Action Month t-shirt and be sure to wear it on the 5th and all month long!
Physically: Light up your home or workplace orange.

Create Awareness
Take: the SNAP challenge and live on just $4.50 a day.
Learn: the facts of Hunger in Minnesota and share it with friends.
Display: our 30 ways in 30 days calendar at work, in your home, and throughout your community.

Take Action
Host: a Food & Fund Drive.
Volunteer: for a three-hour shift to feed a family of four for a week, or take a look at our featured volunteer opportunities to see how you can make an even deeper impact in one of our hungry neighbor’s lives.

Stay tuned for more ideas on how to fight hunger in September.

For more information on ways to fight hunger in September, visit

The Second Annual Pack-a-Thon Provides More than 140,000 Meals to our Hungry Neighbors

Monday, July 29th, 2013

On Saturday, July 20, more than 250 individuals joined us at our second annual Pack-a-Thon! By the time the last shift ended, 74,043 pounds of food was packed and nearly $22,000 was raised—allowing us to provide more than 140,000 meals!

It was inspiring to see the community come together not only for the food, prizes and celebrity guests, but also to reach out and help those in need in our community. Thank you to all who participated or made a financial contribution! We’d also like to thank our sponsor, UnitedHealthcare, and in-kind partners, Tiki Tim’s, Old Dutch, 7UP Bottling Company, and Best Maid Cookie Company!

Check out the photo gallery below!

The need for volunteers and donations is year-round at Second Harvest Heartland. Please visit our website or follow us on Twitter and Facebook to hear about opportunities to continue to help or join us at our next event.

Agency Partner Spotlight of the Month: Prescott Food Pantry, Prescott, Wisconsin

Tuesday, July 23rd, 2013

Ask Pete French, director and chief operating officer of the Prescott (Wis.) Area Food Pantry, what he’s most worried about in his community, and he has an almost immediate answer. “In the last five years, visits to our food pantry by seniors have increased 100 percent,” he says. “Unlike in the past, we are reaching out more and more to people on fixed incomes.”

Pete and his all-volunteer staff speak at community meetings, church gatherings and local businesses to raise awareness about hunger in the community—a problem that affects not only seniors but also families with children. The Prescott Area Food pantry grew from a church-supported initiative in this small western Wisconsin community to a self-sustaining organization that serves more than 150 families in the Prescott School District.

Every week, Pete, who retired from 29 years in a corporate career in the Twin Cities, brings a few volunteers on a trip to the Second Harvest Heartland warehouse to pick up food. Each visit saves their organization the delivery charge and enables them to meet their colleagues at the Second Harvest Heartland warehouse. One recent visit to Second Harvest found Pete and two volunteers loading canned goods, cereal and bread into the back of a pickup truck.

Between visits and deliveries from Second Harvest, as well as donations from local stores and fresh produce from a nearby community garden, Pete notes that the food pantry offers clients a good variety of food —and they appreciate it. “At some time in your life, you may wonder where your next meal is coming from,” he says. “That’s what we’re here for.”

New Mobile Food Unit Filling the Gaps of Summer Child Feeding Programs

Monday, July 15th, 2013

When school is out for the summer, one in six children in our community is at risk of hunger. But with the help from the USDA’s Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) and the Minneapolis Public School District, kids in our community now have easier access to free, fresh and wholesome meals this summer through a new mobile food unit.

The mobile unit, created by the Minneapolis Public School District with help from a $25,000 grant from Second Harvest Heartland, provides meals to children living in high-need areas Monday through Friday during the summer. Since more than 65 percent of students attending Minneapolis Public Schools qualified for free or reduced-priced lunches in 2012, this mobile food unit is an exciting addition to the expanding SFSP program.

“Kids have an opportunity to get a meal during the summer which otherwise they might not be able to get any meals,” says Bertrand Weber, director, Culinary and Nutrition Services at Minneapolis Public Schools.

The Minneapolis Public School District hopes to change the mobile unit’s route in the future to accommodate shifting demographics, need and supply, and thus become an integral way to fill the gaps of Minneapolis’ summer child feeding program.

Sincere thanks to the Minneapolis Public School District for its innovative approach to help provide growing kids with the nutrition they need to live full, healthy lives!

More Than 175,000 Meals Provided by 2013 Food Mania Competitors

Tuesday, July 9th, 2013

In just two weeks, 10 local companies came together in the Ultimate Food Fight to End Hunger during the 2013 Food Mania competition, which ran June 17-28. During the contest, participants raised nearly $45,000, collected more than 16,000 pounds of food, and donated more than 650 volunteer hours. Collectively, that is enough to provide more than 175,000 meals to our neighbors in need!

Thank you to our participants: Wilkerson CPA; KDV CPA; Blanski Peter Kronlage & Zoch, P.A.; Merchant & Gould P.C.; Asian Foods; Kemps; City & County Credit Union. And special thanks to our challengers: Eide Bailly; Arthur Chapman Kettering Smetak & Pikala; and Schwan’s Consumer Brands.

2013 Food Mania Award Winners:

Sector Overall First Place Winners: (Awarded for accruing the most points overall in each sector)
• Accounting: Eide Bailly
• Food: Schwan’s Consumer Brands
• Law: Arthur Chapman Kettering Smetak & Pikala
• Kitchen Sink: City & County Credit Union

Sector Per Capita First Place Winners: (Awarded for collecting the most points per capita in each sector)
• Kitchen Sink: City & County Credit Union
• Law: Arthur Chapman Kettering Smetak & Pikala
• Food: Schwan’s Consumer Brands
• Accounting: Eide Bailly

100% Awards: (Awarded for the greatest percentage of participation by employees among all sectors)
• Arthur Chapman Kettering Smetak & Pikala
• City & County Credit Union

Rookie Award: (Awarded to the top first-time participating organization among all sectors)
• Kemps

Since Food Mania began in 2008, competitors have raised nearly $250,000 and collected nearly 60,000 pounds of food to provide more than 1 million meals!

Thank you to all participating Food Mania companies, past and present. Your enthusiastic support helps ensure all Minnesotans have access to the food they need to thrive!

Local Gardeners Fighting Hunger through

Tuesday, July 2nd, 2013

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

With the help of, a free nationwide program created by Gary Oppenheimer in 2009 that enables more than 40 million American home gardeners to easily donate excess garden produce to local food pantries, those relationships are growing stronger than ever. More than 6,000 food pantries across all 50 states have already registered with more signing up every day. More than 20 million pounds of freshly harvested produce was donated by local growers to their nearby food pantries all across America in 2011.

In the Twin Cities metro area alone, more than 30 food pantries are registered to accept produce through 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, 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!

Volunteer Spotlight of the Month: Friday Morning Protein Packing Group

Thursday, June 27th, 2013

Every Friday morning, you’ll find a group of eight dedicated volunteers enjoying donuts and coffee in our Maplewood reception area before their protein packing volunteer shift begins. Over the past few years, Bob, Michael, Roxanne, Buzz, Lois, Keith, Pete and Tim have collectively given more than 2,000 hours of service packing food for our hungry neighbors.

During their tenure, the tight-knit group of regulars has become well-known to the Second Harvest Heartland staff and other volunteers. Lois has been volunteering the longest, beginning in 2009 after retiring from Medtronic, while Michael and Tim signed up for their first shift just this past February.

The group agrees that the ease of signing up, the convenient schedule and the benefit of regular exercise are all great draws to the volunteer experience. Most important to each of them, though, is Second Harvest Heartland’s ability to steward their donations of time to make the maximum impact in the lives of our neighbors in need.

Bob, a longtime donor who began volunteering three years ago, was familiar with Second Harvest Heartland’s reputation of efficient financial stewardship. But after touring the warehouse during a donor event, he quickly realized he could make an even greater impact by volunteering.

Volunteerism in large part makes the work that we do possible—nearly 20,000 volunteers gave more than 99,000 hours in 2012, equivalent to 47 full-time employees.

Thank you to our Friday morning protein packing group, and to all volunteers who make our work possible! We couldn’t do what we do without you.

Food Mania: Eide Bailly Joins the Ultimate Food Fight to End Hunger

Tuesday, June 25th, 2013

Food Mania, one of Second Harvest Heartland’s premier Food & Fund Drives, began in 2008 when local accounting firm Eide Bailly approached us with an idea: create a friendly competition among local accounting and law firms to raise food and funds for Second Harvest Heartland. From this initial idea, Food Mania was born, and has grown to include employees from food companies and credit unions. Since Food Mania began, competitors have raised nearly $200,000 and collected more than 42,000 pounds of food to provide nearly 800,000 meals!

“It’s fun, with entertaining and engaging activities happening during the entire Food Mania program,” said Deb Nelson, non-profit tax manager, Eide Bailly. “But perhaps more importantly, staff and partners recognize the good work—the necessary work—being done by Second Harvest Heartland to help feed Minnesotan’s hungry neighbors.”

In the video below, Allison Gregory, senior tax associate with Eide Bailly, talks about Food Mania and why hunger relief is so important to their firm.

Thank you to all participating Food Mania companies, past and present. Your enthusiastic support helps ensure all Minnesotans have access to the food they need to thrive!

2013 Food Mania Competitors:

Eide Bailly, LLP
Wilkerson CPA
Blanski Peter Kronlage & Zoch, P.A.

Arthur Chapman
Merchant & Gould P.C.

Food Companies:
Schwan’s Consumer Brands
Asian Foods

Kitchen Sink:
City & County Credit Union

Help Provide Fresh Food for our Neighbors in Need This Summer

Tuesday, June 18th, 2013

Join us this summer as we partner with the Minneapolis Farmer’s Market to collect fresh, local produce to distribute to our agency partners like food shelves, soup kitchens and senior centers! Every Sunday from July 7 to October 27, 2013, you can help by volunteering or buying and donating an extra bag of produce at the market.

To volunteer, sign up for a volunteer shift here. Volunteers promote the program to shoppers and support our vendor partners.

To donate food, fill and purchase an extra bag of food from a market vendor and let them know it’s for Second Harvest Heartland. We’ll work with the vendors to get the food collected and sent out into the community through our network of food shelves and other community programs.

Whether you volunteer with us or donate an extra bag of food, you’ll make a huge impact on the lives of so many children, working parents and seniors who are in need of a little extra help putting food on the table.

For more information, visit

Summer Hunger is No Picnic—Help Feed Local Kids Today

Monday, June 17th, 2013

During the school year, approximately 303,000 Minnesota children receive free or reduced-price meals through the National School Lunch and School Breakfast programs. However, when the school year ends, only about 20 percent of these kids continue to access similar meal programs over the summer. That means that for nearly three months out of every year, children in Minnesota are not getting the nourishment they need.

But you can help! This summer, we’re partnering with the Pioneer Press to help raise funds and awareness around the issue of child hunger through the “Summer Hunger is No Picnic” ad and online campaign.

To help provide wholesome meals for kids this summer, visit to donate, now through August. Just $10 provides 37 meals for hungry children and their families in our community who are hungry.

Thanks to the Pioneer Press for its continued support of our hunger-relief efforts!

New Produce Packing Process and Netting Machine Pays Off

Thursday, June 13th, 2013

As a food bank leader, we’re continually seeking ways to improve the work we do daily—from production in the warehouse, to the delivery of food to our partner agencies.

Recently, our production team put their heads together to develop a quicker, more efficient way to package produce. In the past, when we would receive large quantities of a particular produce item—such as potatoes, apples or onions—we would rely on our volunteers to help us sort, measure and repackage the food into more manageable, family-friendly portions. The process was all done by hand, and it usually required three to four days to repack a whole truckload.

Our team knew there had to be a better way to turn the product quicker to ensure the freshest, highest-quality produce was being distributed to our neighbors in need. Thanks to a hard-working production team and a new packing process, measuring system and netting machine, we’ve been able to reduce production time to just a few hours and volunteer shifts! In fact, just last week, volunteers from Target and UnitedHealthcare repacked a 38,000-pound truckload of onions in just under five hours!

We started off with a new netting machine—a device that allows produce to funnel through and get cut and stapled—all in one shot. This method allows seven people to be as productive as a group of a group of more than 20 people bagging and hand-tying each individual bag. With the purchase of several spools of netting for this machine, we are able to save 7 cents per bag. That is a total cost savings of $31,495 per year! Not only does this new machine expedite the repacking process, it also cuts the cost of our operations exponentially.

We are excited about developing better ways to handle and distribute more food, and expand opportunities for future growth!

To find out how you can help, visit

Watch This Year’s Dish Video, and Help Bring Hope to Hungry Children

Wednesday, June 12th, 2013

Second Harvest Heartland works on a number of fronts to address child hunger, through food distribution to 1,000 agency partners and support of various community programs that provide food to children in local neighborhoods.

With the funds raised at Second Harvest Heartland’s 2013 Dish event, we’ll continue to help make sure kids and their families have access to food during tough times. Take a moment to watch this year’s Dish video, created by Broad Daylight, and learn how we—and others—are working to make sure hungry children have enough to eat so they can develop to their fullest potential and have fun just being kids. You can also take a look at photos from this year’s event here.

Sincere thanks to all of our friends who supported the work of Second Harvest Heartland at Dish, presented by Cub Foods. The event attracted over 1,000 people and raised more than $680,000. Thanks to the generous support of our community, we’ll be able to provide over 2.5 million meals to our neighbors in need. Save the date for next year’s Dish event: Thursday, May 29, 2014 at the Saint Paul RiverCentre.

Visit to help bring hope to hungry children all year round.

Enjoy the Star Tribune, Feed a Family.

Thursday, June 6th, 2013

Second Harvest Heartland and the Star Tribune have partnered to provide up to 15,000 meals for those in need in our community. Take advantage of this special opportunity.

Enjoy four weeks of the Sunday Star Tribune risk free. If you wish to continue your subscription, it is only $1 per week! It’s like getting 30 weeks of the paper for only $26. For each subscription sold to a new customer, the Star Tribune will make a donation of $20 to Second Harvest Heartland.

To learn more, visit

Thanks for Making Dish: Cuisine for Change a Success!

Wednesday, June 5th, 2013

Sincere thanks to all of our friends who supported the work of Second Harvest Heartland at Thursday’s Dish: Cuisine for Change, presented by Cub Foods. The event attracted over 1,000 people and raised more than $680,000. Thanks to the generous support of our community, we’ll be able to provide over 2.5 million meals to our neighbors in need. We are humbled and grateful to our sponsors, restaurants, auction donors, individual attendees, volunteers and other supporters for the incredible generosity displayed that evening. Thank you!

Whether you were able to attend or not, we invite you to download a recipe booklet from this year’s participating restaurants—The Strip Club Meat & Fish, Zelo, Barbette and more.

Take a look at photos from this year’s event below.

Save the date for next year’s Dish event: Thursday, May 29, 2014 at the Saint Paul RiverCentre

Agency Partner Spotlight: White Bear Area Emergency Food Shelf

Thursday, May 30th, 2013

Second Harvest Heartland distributes food to about 1,000 food shelves and other agency partners in its service area. These agency partners work hard to provide food directly to clients.

Just a stone’s throw away from busy US Highway 61 in White Bear Lake, vegetables grow in neat rows where an asphalt parking lot used to stand. This new on-site garden, built and tended by volunteers and created to provide hungry families with fresh produce, is one of the innovations underway at the White Bear Area Emergency Food Shelf.

“By partnering with volunteers, churches, businesses and organizations such as Second Harvest Heartland, we are able to feed more hungry families every year,” says Executive Director Ann Searles.

The White Bear Area Emergency Food Shelf has been providing food to neighbors in need since 1977. They started out in an old fire station, moved into their own building in 2000 and are currently planning an expansion and renovation that will include a new produce prep room. In 2012, the organization served more than 10,000 individuals and distributed 230,924 pounds of food to families in the White Bear Lake school district.

Other innovations include ShelfSaver software – an integrated touchscreen and scale system that helps integrate information about pounds donated and received and makes the donation and pickup process easier for volunteers and clients. The food shelf also recently implemented a weekend food backpack program. Volunteers fill ordinary plastic grocery bags with noodles, fruit, snacks, juice boxes and other staples and deliver them on Fridays to more than 350 elementary and middle schools as well as to the food shelf at nearby Century College to keep our youngest community members fed over the weekend. “Our mission is to provide food and support for our neighbors in need,” Ann says. “We’re grateful that our community helps us do that.” Their website is

Help Provide Meals for Many Through Bremer Bank’s $2-for-$1 Match This June

Friday, May 24th, 2013

Hunger can affect anyone, anywhere, at any age. That’s why Bremer Bank is partnering with several area Feeding America food banks, including Second Harvest Heartland, to help end hunger in our local communities through the Meals for Many campaign.

For every dollar donated between June 10 & June 22, 2013, Bremer Bank will match your donation $2-for-$1, up to $30,000! You can make a donation at your local Bremer Bank or online at

Bremer Bank is committed to fighting hunger for kids, adults and seniors in our community, and we invite you to join them this June.

Thanks, Bremer Bank, for your continued support of hunger relief in our community! For more information on Bremer Bank and their June campaign, visit

Girl Scouts of Minnesota and Wisconsin River Valleys Celebrate the Tradition of Giving Back

Wednesday, May 15th, 2013

Thank you to the Girl Scouts of Minnesota and Wisconsin River Valleys for their donation of more than 60,000 boxes of Girl Scout cookies through their “Buy 12 Give 12” campaign. For every case of cookies purchased between February 25–March 17, Girl Scouts River Valleys donated a case to the Second Harvest Heartland food shelf network.

For more information about the Girls Scouts of Minnesota and Wisconsin River Valleys, visit here.