Archive for the ‘General Interest’ Category

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

Thursday, 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.

SNAP Success Stories

Monday, 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

Wednesday, 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

Tuesday, 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 or check out our FAQ. Farm to Foodshelf is funded by the State of Minnesota.

The New Face of Hunger

Monday, 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

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

Wednesday, 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.

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

Wednesday, 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

Tuesday, 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

What Does Hunger Mean to Local Kids?

Wednesday, 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, or donate today to have an immediate and direct impact.

*Names have been changed

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

Tuesday, July 8th, 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 or visit 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.

Supporting Second Harvest Heartland a Family Affair

Wednesday, June 25th, 2014

One Twin Cities family has grown its support for Second Harvest Heartland as the organization itself has grown—and both are better for it. Glenn McCabe and Laurel Wright have supported Second Harvest Heartland in various ways since 2006 and have involved their sons, Jack and Ben, over the years.

“Our lot in life is pretty darn good,” says Glenn. “It is important that we use our good fortune to help others.” Glenn, executive vice president at Meridian Land Company, is on the board of Second Harvest Heartland, and a generous financial supporter. “This organization is about more than collecting and distributing food,” he stresses. “It’s very creative—from growing Retail Food Rescue and Share Fresh (capturing of ag surplus), to promoting access to SNAP. Also, its efficient operations have always appealed to us.”

Laurel, a physician, believes strongly that solving hunger with nutritious food is important. “Food is one of our biggest health problems. Second Harvest Heartland is not just about getting more calories to those who need it, but is committed to getting them more fresh and nutritious food, too,” she says. “Food is the most basic need we have; with all the need out there, our connection to Second Harvest Heartland is a good fit.”

Glenn and Laurel know that getting food to people is about more than collecting food themselves and donating it. “When the kids were younger, we asked their friends to bring food as the gift for their birthday parties, to donate to those who are hungry.” Since then, Jack and Ben have volunteered at the Golden Valley site to repack bulk donated food into family-size amounts that go directly to food shelves and other meal programs. In eighth grade, Jack convinced his teammates during his schools’ Business Day to donate all proceeds from their group’s business venture to Second Harvest Heartland. Several hundred dollars went directly to helping those in need. “We also learned that Jack had written a paper in sixth grade about hunger; he clearly felt strongly about this issue,” notes Glenn.

From support of events like Dish and Vintner Ball, to volunteering, to providing board expertise, Glenn and the entire family have provided significant time, talent and resources to living the mission of Second Harvest Heartland. “I am always very proud to invite people to support Second Harvest Heartland,” adds Laurel.

We at Second Harvest Heartland sincerely thank Glenn McCabe and his committed family for their years of helping hungry people in our community!

Donor Spotlight: The Ray and Florence Family Foundation

Friday, June 20th, 2014

As our agency partners continue to experience high need for food, the support of our generous donors is more important than ever.

The Ray and Florence Family Foundation takes a unique approach to supporting Second Harvest Heartland by donating capital gifts in the form of a refrigerated cooling unit at our Golden Valley facility, a floor scrubber, pallet jacks and even an entire delivery truck. According to Ken Berglund of the family foundation, it’s important for them to see their gifts in action, and capital improvements are a perfect way to do just that.

Sincere thanks to the Berglund family of the Ray and Florence Family Foundation for their unique and generous approach to help us end hunger!

Catch a Free Meal This Summer!

Tuesday, June 10th, 2014

During the school year, more than 300,000 Minnesota children receive free or reduced-price school meals. But when summer arrives, only about 15 percent of these kids continue to access supportive meal programs. To fill this gap, Second Harvest Heartland is once again teaming up with the Minnesota Department of Education to help connect kids with meals this summer.

The Summer Food Service Program provides free meals to children 18 and under to fill this gap.

Looking for a free meal near you?

Finding free summer meals for kids is easy! Meals served at the sites published on our Summer Meal Map are open to all children during their meal service times and dates and are completely free to kids under 18. Use the Summer Meal Map to find free meal site near you, or call or text 612.516.3663 for locations.

Interested in learning more information about who can eat at meal sites (kids!), what they need to bring (nothing!), or what the requirements are (none!)? Click here for answers to your FAQs about SFSP meal sites!

Volunteer Spotlight of the Month: Heather Hammond

Thursday, June 5th, 2014

“Personally, my big thing is being able to connect people,” Heather Hammond explains. At Second Harvest Heartland, she’s found ample opportunities to do just that.

This spring, Heather is returning for a second internship at Second Harvest Heartland. In a departure from her previous role managing events geared at engaging our local business partners, Heather is working with Second Harvest Heartland’s Produce Capture Institute.

With a generous grant from Cargill, Second Harvest Heartland has partnered with 7 other food banks around the country to form the Produce Capture Institute. The Institute researches how food banks in agriculturally rich regions can help tap the 6.1 billion pounds of agricultural surplus that goes unharvested or unsold each year in the United States.

“Second Harvest Heartland cares not about just feeding our own neighbors, but helping other people feed their communities. It’s something much greater than any other organization I’ve been a part of,” Heather said.

As the Produce Capture Institute intern, Heather researches the Feeding America’s 205 member food banks’ need for fresh produce and their current supply chains for accessing produce. She has found that some food banks’ produce travels more than 700 miles to get to its destination.

“We’re creating stronger network communications around agricultural surplus so that the eight members of the Produce Capture Institute can get that produce to the Feeding America network as economically and efficiently as possible,” Heather said.

As with her first internship, the true test of Heather’s success will be getting people to make those connections themselves by creating a sustainable produce exchange and communications system.

Heather is optimistic that her efforts and the Produce Capture Institute will result in millions of more meals for the 1 in 10 children, seniors and families in our community who experience the stress of hunger daily.

“It’s like a puzzle,” she explained. “Everything’s out there. It’s just how it all fits together.”

$2 Million in Legislative Funding To Provide More Fresh Produce to Hungry Minnesotans

Monday, May 19th, 2014

Two million dollars will provide more fresh vegetables and fruits to our neighbors in need, thanks to a new program that will pay growers their costs to harvest donated fresh produce that would otherwise go unused. Second Harvest Heartland led the six Feeding America food banks that serve the state, with support from Hunger-Free Minnesota, in seeking legislation to create this program, through the “Farm to Food Shelf” bill. Chief authored by Representative Jeanne Poppe of Austin and Senators Matt Schmit of Red Wing, Lyle Koenen of Clara City and Kent Eken of Twin Valley, and co-authored by a bipartisan group of 45 legislators from around Minnesota, the bill’s new money will be instrumental in moving millions of pounds of food to eligible food shelves and other meal programs statewide within the next three years.

More than 1 in 10 Minnesota families are food insecure—meaning they lack sustained access to the food needed for a healthy, productive life. Food insecurity is highest in rural Minnesota and the Twin Cities urban core, and for seniors and young families with children. More than 40 percent of those served by Minnesota food shelves are children.

“Second Harvest Heartland sought this legislation because we are committed to pursuing innovative ways to bring more healthy and nutritious food to our hungry neighbors,” said Rob Zeaske, Second Harvest Heartland CEO. “The need is still high in our communities, and we look forward to working with generous growers who want to donate food out of the ground but need help with costs related to ‘picking and packing.’ “

In advocating for this bill over the past 5 months, Second Harvest Heartland received strong support from the Minnesota cluster of Feeding America food banks—including Channel One in Rochester and Second Harvest Northern Lakes in Duluth—and from Hunger-Free Minnesota. Hunger-Free Minnesota’s data showing missing meals by census tract in each legislator’s district proved highly motivational to legislators.

“Hunger in Minnesota is often hidden, but this data and the efforts of many supportive legislators brought hunger into view,” said Zeaske. “Hunger is the largest solvable problem in Minnesota, because we already have the food to solve it.”

Update on Our Community Outreach Programs

Tuesday, May 6th, 2014

We support a number of programs that connect hungry people with resources that increase their food security.

Meals for Minds School Pantry Program
With funding from Target, we distributed nearly 510,000 meals at 11 schools in high-need areas across the Twin Cities through Meals for Minds this year. Since the program began, more than 1.2 million meals have been distributed.

Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) Outreach
One in four people who qualify for SNAP (food stamps) don’t access their benefits. This year, our team of 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.

Summer Food Service Program (SFSP)
This program fills the missing meal gap during the summer months for kids who rely on free or reduced-price meals during the school year. This year, nearly 300,000 meals were served in targeted outreach neighborhoods in Minneapolis and St. Paul, a 10 percent increase over last year. Second Harvest Heartland supported SFSP by building community awareness to increase participation and by providing capacity building grants to meal site sponsors.

Commodity Supplemental Food Program (CSFP)
Through this program, we provide a box of food monthly to income-eligible seniors through government food programs. This year, we opened 10 new distribution sites, and continue working to better serve underrepresented areas in the metro area and greater Minnesota.

Getting Involved: How Partners Are Investing Their Support to Help us Reach our Goals

Thursday, May 1st, 2014

Legacy Gift: Wanda Lorentzen

Wanda Lorentzen had a very independent spirit and was a life-long learner, with over 1,200 books in her personal library. She was also very generous and cared deeply for helping those around her and from afar–hosting many foreign exchange students from all over the world.

When Wanda learned of her terminal illness in 2011, she had a discussion with her sister, Deb Gerber, on how to establish a long-term commitment to helping those in need in her community. According to Deb, Wanda decided that food was one of the basic human needs she wanted to support and selected Second Harvest Heartland as the organization she most trusted with her bequest.

Deb is very proud of her sister. Not only for the thoughtful way Wanda planned her Legacy Gift, but for also pursuing her value of independence by taking the steps to self-direct her Legacy while she was still with us.

Getting Involved: How Partners Are Investing Their Support to Help us Reach our Goals

Wednesday, April 30th, 2014

Event: Dish: Cuisine for Change

For the 10 years that our annual gala, Dish: Cuisine for Change, has been bringing the community together to help end hunger, Stephani and Jim Tikalsky have only missed attending one year.

After receiving an invitation in the mail for the second annual Dish nine years ago, they attended their first event, and were hooked.

Dish’s unique, fun atmosphere, along with Second Harvest Heartland’s hunger relief work, has brought the Tikalskys back year after year. Stephani has also served on the Dish auction committee for the past six years.

“It’s a great way to spend an evening—good food, drink, auction items and entertainment—and you can feel good about helping make a difference. There’s something powerful when you look around and see all the restaurants who have volunteered their time and food, the volunteers who have worked to make the evening a success, and all the attendees who have come to support a worthwhile cause. It’s exhilarating,” said Stephani.

Buy your Dish tickets today at

Getting Involved: How Partners Are Investing Their Support to Help us Reach our Goals

Tuesday, April 29th, 2014

Individual Giving: Jim and Kathy Gelder

Like many of our generous donors, Jim Gelder was first introduced to Second Harvest Heartland through a United Way workplace giving campaign while working for ING Minneapolis. According to Jim, ING’s commitment to investing in the community was a catalyst for his own dedication to helping others. “It established a bond to Second Harvest Heartland,” said Jim.

The bond grew over time. Jim found opportunities to share his passion of hunger relief, including a tour of the Second Harvest Heartland warehouse in Maplewood with his ING colleagues and then visiting the Golden Valley facility with his wife.

“(My wife and I) both have seen firsthand how Second Harvest Heartland does what it does,” said Jim. Retirement has since transported Jim and Kathy to their new home in Arizona, but they continue to support organizations that build strong communities, like Second Harvest Heartland, as well as a food bank in Arizona.

“We’ve developed a heart for feeding people,” said Jim.

Getting Involved: How Partners Are Investing Their Support to Help us Reach our Goals

Monday, April 28th, 2014

Family Foundation: Hognander Family Foundation

From childhood, Orville “Joe” Hognander Jr. says his parents instilled in him a commitment to helping others. He recalls his mother telling him “we must help those less fortunate” and handing him coins to give to disabled WWII vets asking for money on the streets. Moments like these, Joe says, reflect the principles on which he was raised.

Today, through the Hognander Family Foundation, Joe carries on his parent’s legacy of helping others by supporting organizations that strengthen communities. “Second Harvest Heartland serves a crucial role in this effort by providing food to those who need it and it’s important to support this work.”

In addition to being a convenient way to give, Joe believes family foundations, like his at The Minneapolis Foundation, involve the whole family in philanthropy and are a way to pass on family values to younger generations.