Posts Tagged ‘child hunger’

Food is Fundamental: For Hungry Kids, Food Means Fuel for Academic Success

Wednesday, April 9th, 2014

Food can change the way kids learn and has a positive effect on their health and academic success. As principal at Maxfield Elementary School in St. Paul (where 98 percent of students qualify for free or reduced lunch), Nancy Stachel observes,

“Kids who are hungry don’t sleep well, and by noon they are acting out and quick to anger. They are less likely to concentrate, and over time that impacts achievement.”

Her observations are supported by The University of Minnesota Food Industry Center’s Cost/Benefit
Hunger Impact study
that links hunger with child’s cognitive and physical development. Hunger costs Minnesotans between $1.2 – $1.6 billion annually in direct and indirect healthcare and education costs.

To battle hunger and promote learning, Maxfield Elementary partners with Second Harvest Heartland on hunger relief programs including a Target Meals for Minds mobile pantry that distributes groceries to families of students enrolled at the school and serving as a meal site for the Summer Food Service Program, a USDA program operated by the Minnesota Department of Education.

In Minneapolis, Bertrand Weber, Director of Culinary Services for Minneapolis Public Schools, took his hunger solution on the road. Using Community Close-Up research – developed through Hunger-Free Minnesota by The Boston Consulting Group – he identified high-need, low-resourced areas beyond walking distance to summer meal sites serving nearby high-need children. He then converted an old school bus into a food truck, made possible through a Summer Food Service Program grant from Second Harvest Heartland. The truck visited four new sites in those low-resourced areas on its daily summer route.

“Going mobile was the best way to reach kids who might be missing meals during the summer, and keep them energized and ready to learn again in the fall,” says Weber.

1,000,000 meals
Number of meals the Meals for Minds mobile school pantry program has distributed at 11 schools in the Twin Cities since 2010. Meals for Minds, (supported through funding from Target) sets up grocery distribution sites at high-need elementary schools across the Twin Cities monthly during the school year for families of children enrolled at the school.

$800 annually
The cost to each Minnesota family of allowing people to go hungry, based on total health and education consequences inflicted when our neighbors miss meals.

Source: University of Minnesota Food Industry center’s cost/Benefit Hunger Impact study

Help Distribute Food to Students in Need

Thursday, February 6th, 2014

You can help end child hunger.

In partnership with Target, we coordinate monthly grocery distributions through a mobile food pantry at 11 elementary schools in Minneapolis and St. Paul.

Each child leaves a Meals for Minds pantry with 30 pounds of groceries.

We need your help to make this happen.

Volunteers are needed for the following shifts:

Thursday, February 20, 4-7 p.m.
Sullivan/Anishinabe Elementary School
3100 E. 28th Street
Minneapolis, MN 55406

Tuesday, March 4
Pillsbury Elementary School
2250 Garfield Street NE
Minneapolis, MN 55418

Tuesday, March 4
American Indian Magnet School
1075 3rd St East St. Paul, MN 55106

These volunteer opportunities are great for individuals, small groups and/or corporate groups looking to give direct, personal service in a fun, energetic environment.

When you volunteer with Meals for Minds, you:

  • Sort food
  • Set up food stations
  • Provide friendly service
  • Put food directly into the hands of your hungry neighbors

Meals for Minds is one of the most hands-on opportunities at Second Harvest Heartland—sign up to volunteer today!

Visit to register.

Volunteers Drive a Record-Breaking Month for the Meals for Minds Program

Monday, November 11th, 2013

Meals for Minds, Second Harvest Heartland’s mobile school pantry program, supported through funding from Target Corporation, broke a new record this October. With help from more than 300 volunteers, Second Harvest Heartland distributed more than 96,000 pounds of free groceries to elementary students and their families—the most distributed in any month since the Meals for Minds program began in 2010.

This latest milestone points to the incredible energy and efficiency that volunteers bring to Meals for Minds, and highlights how far the program has come. In October 2012, more than 200 volunteers served at eight schools in Minneapolis and St. Paul. Together, they distributed 54,887 pounds of food to more than 1,600 students. One year later, with an additional 100 volunteers in place each month, Second Harvest Heartland was able to serve 2,000 students at 11 schools each month.

Up to 40 volunteers gather to set up each school’s monthly, pop-up grocery distribution site. Volunteers first ensure that all food is safe and fresh, especially produce, which makes up 25 percent of the pounds distributed at each Meals for Mind event. Once the students and families arrive, volunteers help families pick up and carry their groceries to their vehicles.

“You get to see and talk with the people you are helping. Seeing the joy on the kids’ faces, hearing their stories and watching them do cartwheels outside the school while helping carry groceries to their cars was the best, and it gives me hope!” says Jacob Obler, a first-time Meals for Minds volunteer who helped this October at Bethune Community School in Minneapolis.

Jadee Hanson, another Meals for Minds volunteer, adds, “The Meals for Minds volunteer event is one of the best volunteer events I have attended. It is very well organized and feels like we are making a huge impact in the lives of the students.”

Thanks to all of our volunteers for your work in helping our neighbors in need!

Sign up to volunteer at a Meals for Minds event here.

Cause and Effects: Summer Food Service Program Outreach Campaign

Wednesday, October 30th, 2013

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 teams up with the Minnesota Department of Education to help connect kids with summer meals.

This summer, we launched a new Minneapolis-St. Paul metro area outreach campaign in Metro Transit buses, lightrail trains and neighborhood newspapers to promote and expand participation in the USDA’s Summer Food Service Program (SFSP); those interested were asked to text for more information. To date, trends show a positive increase over past years in the number of text messages received from kids and their families looking for an SFSP meal site, indicating significant growth in program interest, and ultimately, connecting more kids with more meals over the summer.

Help Kick Childhood Hunger with the Minnesota Vikings

Monday, October 28th, 2013

During the holiday season when we do our best to think about others and give back, the players and coaches of the Minnesota Vikings are leading by example by hosting this year’s Taste of the Vikings event at Mall of America on November 11 at 7pm.

The Taste of the Vikings, one of our premier events, combines food and football to raise funds for hunger relief in Minnesota. Attendees sample food and wine from some of the Twin Cities best restaurants and take pictures with and get autographs from the Minnesota Vikings roster. All proceeds from the Taste of the Vikings event benefit the Second Harvest Heartland Summer Food Service Program supported by the Vikings Children’s Fund. Last year, the event raised more than $130,000! That’s enough to provide 481,000 meals to low-income kids in need of food!

Thanks to the Minnesota Vikings, Taste of the NFL founder Wayne Kostroski, presenting sponsor Radisson and local chefs who will give their time to help us in our fight to end hunger!

To see pictures from last year’s event, click here.

To register for this year’s event, click here.

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!

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!

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.

Plum Organics Fights Child Hunger with Super Smoothies

Friday, June 7th, 2013

One in six children in our community live at risk of hunger on any given day. When kids don’t have enough to eat, they often don’t receive the right nutrition they need to live full, healthy lives.

That’s why we were excited to receive a donation of 10,000 individual Super Smoothies from Plum Organics earlier this week. As part of a broader effort to help food insecure babies and tots across the country, Neil Grimmer, CEO of Plum Organics, was on site donating the essential nutrition pouches for use in the Second Harvest Heartland service area.

The Super Smoothies are a blend of organic fruits, vegetables and grains that were designed specifically to ease the nutrient deficiencies of food insecure kids ages 6 months to 36 months, but are nutritious and appealing for any age.

Plum Organics has made a commitment to donate at least 500,000 Super Smoothies in 2013 to hunger-relief organizations across the country. Thank you, Plum Organics, for your support of fighting child hunger in our community!

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

Hunger Never Takes a Summer Break – Help Today

Tuesday, April 23rd, 2013

One in six children in our community is not able to get enough food on a regular basis. That equates to thousands of hungry kids, especially during the summer when they don’t have access to school breakfast and lunch programs.

With your help, Second Harvest Heartland can continue to gather and deliver more food to our 1,000 agency partners serving kids and families, so they can return to school fully nourished and ready to learn. Just $1 allows us to provide up to $8 worth of food to a child in need.

Support Second Harvest Heartland and help provide for more kids in need by making a gift today at

Save the Date for the 10th Annual Dish: Cuisine for Change

Thursday, March 14th, 2013

Save the date for our premier gala, Dish: Cuisine for Change, presented by Cub Foods, and help us bring hope to hungry children! With one in every six Minnesota children living at risk of hunger, there has never been a better time to help provide relief. Your attendance at this year’s event will help us reinvent hunger relief through continued leadership and innovation.

Enjoy a lively evening of gourmet cuisine from top local chefs, exciting silent and live auctions, fine wine, and great entertainment featuring Dana Carvey, Emmy-award winning comedian and cast member of “Saturday Night Live” from 1986-1992.

This year’s event will take place on Thursday, May 30 at the Saint Paul RiverCentre. Check out photos from last year’s event below, or head over to to reserve your tickets or become a table host and enjoy exclusive benefits.

Can’t make the event? You can still make a gift to support the event and help support child hunger programs.

Special thanks to the Pioneer Press

Monday, September 24th, 2012

Second Harvest Heartland would like to thank the Pioneer Press for their continued partnership and generous contributions to help raise awareness about child hunger each summer. The Summer Hunger is No Picnic campaign raised over $15,500 this year, enough to provide 57,350 meals for hungry children and working families in our community!

We’d also like to thank everyone who contributed to the campaign—donations like yours help ensure that low-income children in our area have access to the meals they need to learn and grow.

If you’re interested in learning about other ways to fight child hunger all year round, visit our website. On behalf of the children who were able to spend this summer just being kids, instead of being hungry, thank you.

Free meals reaching more kids this summer through Summer Food Service Program funding

Friday, June 29th, 2012

Every year, Second Harvest Heartland offers grant funding to Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) sponsors. Through this grant program, we aim to develop existing infrastructure, expand into new areas, and most importantly, to increase the number of children receiving nutritious meals over the summer.

Both new and returning sponsors are working in innovative ways this summer to enhance their programs and attract more kids. The Hopkins Public Schools’ Summer Food Program, for instance, used their $25,000 grant to purchase a food truck that will allow the program to take hot lunches to neighborhoods that don’t fall within the areas already served.

Additionally, The Big Lake Summer Food Program is using their grant funds to increase activity and provide bus transportation to the site. Consequently, the site attracted 300 kids last week and expects many more this week as summer programs start! They have even hired a physical education teacher to provide and lead activities for the kids.

The Summer Food Service Program has already reached thousands of kids through existing programs and services, and with the help of forward-thinking sponsors like those in Hopkins and Big Lake, our reach is growing bigger and bigger every day!

Children struggle with hunger in every county in America

Thursday, August 25th, 2011

Child HungerToday, Feeding America released the Map the Meal Gap: Child Food Insecurity 2011 study which provides a detailed look into the number of children in America that are under the age of 18 that go hungry every year.

The study reveals that there are children struggling with hunger in every county in America. Nationally, while one in six Americans overall don’t have proper access to the food they need, the rate for children is much higher: nearly one in four children are at risk of hunger.

It also provides information on Second Harvest Heartland’s service area in which it found that there are more than 200,000 children under the age of 18 that are currently struggling with hunger.

Child hunger is simply unacceptable. The new information gained from this study will help us develop even more ways to improve our child hunger programs like the Summer Food Service Program which provides meals to children who may otherwise go hungry during the summer or the Commodity Supplemental Food Program, which provides a box of nutritious food each month through the Mothers and Children Program (MAC).

For more details on this study check out the entire interactive map here.

Share Your Lunch with kids in need

Monday, June 13th, 2011

1 in 8 Minnesota children is at risk of hunger. And this summer, 80% of the kids who receive nutrition assistance during the school year won’t access the meals they need to stay strong and healthy. But there’s something you can do.

Start a Share Your Lunch Drive today! Create a fundraising page in minutes, and we’ll mail you a kit to help run your drive at your workplace, school or even around the neighborhood. Anyone can do it.

Every $10 you raise provides more than a meal a day for a month for a child or family in need this summer. You can make a huge impact!

Start your drive now.

Share Your Lunch

Kids Eat Free this summer- new tools to find free meals for kids ages 1-18

Tuesday, June 15th, 2010

Kids Eat FreeDuring the school year, approximately 290,000 Minnesota children receive free or reduced-price meals through the National School Lunch and School Breakfast programs. However, when the school year ends for the summer, only about 20% of these kids continue to receive these low-cost or free nutritious meals. That means that for nearly three months out of every year, more than 232,000 children in Minnesota aren’t getting the nourishment they need.

To fill the nutritional gap facing these children during the summer months, Second Harvest Heartland has teamed up with the Minnesota Vikings and Target to work with the Minnesota Department of Education to help facilitate the Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) in Minnesota and help bring more meals to more kids this summer.

Do you know a family who could use a little extra help with food this summer?

Check out the Summer Lunch Map, an easy-to-use tool for finding free food for kids across the state this summer. Families can also call 2-1-1 from a landline or text 612-516-FOOD for locations.

Want to help?

Click here to make a gift. Together, we can ensure healthy, plentiful meals for Minnesota kids who need them to grow and thrive.

50 kids meet Vikings players while learning about healthy eating

Wednesday, August 12th, 2009

The Vikings Children’s Fund Summer Lunch Program hosted 50 young fans for a healthy lunch and a VIP view of training camp yesterday, as part of the Fund’s commitment to building participation in the USDA’s Summer Food Service Program across Minnesota.

Vikings players, including running back Adrian Peterson and defensive end Ray Edwards, were on site encouraging kids to continue healthy eating habits over the summer. Youth from Mankato’s three Salvation Army-sponsored feeding sites attended, in celebration of the Vikings organization’s effort to provide an additional 200,000 meals to Minnesota children this summer.

“Sofia Shibly, 9, eats at least one lunch a week, courtesy of the Salvation Army’s mobile unit in her Mankato neighborhood. She said meals have included mashed potatoes and gravy, corn dogs and pizza. But a program administrator quickly chimed in that healthier foods are a key part of the meals.

But Shibly said today was the best meal of all since it was at the Vikings training camp.

‘I had a lot of fun,’ she said.”
(via Pioneer Press)

Pictured below: Young Vikings fans with Adrian Peterson and Ray Edwards of the Vikings, Joan Wadkins of Second Harvest Heartland
Adrian Peterson and Ray Edwards of the Vikings - with kids

New Summer Feeding Partnership will help provide 200,000 meals!

Wednesday, May 27th, 2009

We’re excited to announce a first-time partnership with the Minnesota Vikings and Hunger Solutions which will help provide an additional 200,000 meals to be distributed in Minnesota through the existing Summer Feeding program for children in our community!

The Minnesota Vikings have donated a generous $92,000 to this effort, which will help expand the existing USDA-sponsored program. “The Vikings Children’s Fund aims to positively impact the well-being of our children and help provide them with the means to be healthy, strong and vibrant members of our community as they grow,” said Steve LaCroix, vice president of sales and marketing, chief marketing officer with the Minnesota Vikings. “Proper nutrition will always be essential to a child’s well-being, which is why the Vikings are honored to participate in this program with Hunger Solutions Minnesota and Second Harvest Heartland.”

During the schoolyear, 270,000 children in Minnesota depend on free and reduced-cost school lunches – but only 20% of those children receive the same subsidized meals during the summer.

Together, we can help increase participation in the program and provide more meals to hungry children in our community. Visit to learn more about this exciting new initiative, or visit