Posts Tagged ‘feeding america’

Tough Decisions for our Hungry Neighbors

Wednesday, November 12th, 2014

When people don’t have access to enough food, impossible trade-offs often follow. In order to put food on the table, high-need families frequently sacrifice other basic needs in order to make ends meet.

Many Second Harvest Heartland clients make tough decisions every day—decisions between food or transportation, food or housing, food or medical care. They choose coping skills to manage their hunger—choosing inexpensive, unhealthy foods to feel full; watering down food or drinks to make them last longer; pawning or selling property for food money or asking family and friends for help.

Our infographic below represents the tough decisions our hungry neighbors had to make at least once in the last year, with information from the Hunger in American 2014 study.

For ways to help those in need this holiday season, visit

Hunger in America 2014: Gaining a Deeper Understanding of Who We Serve

Tuesday, November 4th, 2014

Second Harvest Heartland was one of nearly 200 Feeding America member food banks that participated in the 2014 Hunger in America study, released this August. With more than 60,000 clients and 32,000 food shelves and other agency partners across the country surveyed, this is the most comprehensive and largest study of its kind.

The study provides current demographic data of the people who receive emergency food assistance and the economic and personal circumstances of their households on a national, state and county level. This helps us to better understand who we serve and why they use our services.

Results for our service area align with what we are seeing and hearing from our agency partners. Though the economy is improving overall, persistent unemployment and underemployment continue to impact many.

Although many individuals are either continuing with higher education or seeking work, they are still experiencing challenges with food security, limited income, unpaid medical bills and health challenges. This often forces them to make decisions between feeding themselves and their families and/or paying for other critical things like utilities, medical care, rent or education.

The local Hunger in America study results will help Second Harvest Heartland to better partner with agencies in our service area and better meet the needs of the clients we serve.

To read more, visit

Voices of Hunger Relief

Monday, 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.

Got Milk?

Monday, 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.

Go Orange Today for Hunger Relief

Thursday, 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 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

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.

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.

Thanks to Bremer Bank for Providing Meals for Many for 9 Years!

Thursday, July 31st, 2014

On behalf of the families, children and seniors we serve – thank you to Bremer Bank and those who helped make the 2014 Meals for Many campaign a huge success!  With the support of donors across Minnesota, Wisconsin and North Dakota the Meals for Many campaign raised a total of more than $96,000.

During the two-week campaign, Bremer Bank matched donations at a $2-for-$1 match up to a total of $35,000. Individuals also had the opportunity to test their knowledge about hunger with the Meals for Many quiz, created by Software for Good.   For every quiz completed, Bremer Bank donated $1, raising an additional $2,100 in match dollars to contribute to the total. These donations will be distributed to Second Harvest Heartland and the other Feeding America food banks serving Minnesota.

Thank you Bremer Bank for your continued support of hunger relief throughout Minnesota!

Farmers Invited to Help Feed Minnesota’s Hungry

Tuesday, July 29th, 2014

Minnesota farmers have an opportunity this fall to help solve a rising but little known problem affecting rural communities throughout the state.  Next week, Second Harvest Heartland will be representing the six Feeding America food banks serving Minnesota at FarmFest in Morgan, Minn., to engage farmers in Invest an Acre.

This year in rural Minnesota, families will miss 40 million meals. Minnesota farmers already play a significant role in food production for the state, country and world. But a need still exists and in rural communities hunger is often hidden.

Feeding America’s Invest an Acre program turns farmer contributions into meals for local families. Farmers can get involved in two ways; they can make a cash donation now or pledge to make a donation from this year’s crop at harvest. Farmers do not need to give a final commitment until the crops are at the elevator.

Volunteers will be present at the FarmFest booth, asking farmers to pledge revenue from an acre, bushel or any amount of their 2014 crop to help fight hunger in their own communities. When harvest nears, farmers will be reminded to go online to create a donation form to bring to their local elevator with their grain donation. One hundred percent of the donation stays in the farmer’s community, and all of the money goes directly to provide food to hungry families. The Monsanto Company is matching every donation nationally, dollar for dollar, up to $675,000.

Participating food banks include: Channel One Regional Food Bank, Great Plains Food Bank, North Country Food Bank, Inc., Second Harvest Heartland, Second Harvest North Central Food Bank and Second Harvest Northern Lakes Food Bank.

To learn more about Invest an Acre and Harvest to End Hunger Minnesota, visit

For more information about FarmFest, please visit the event page at

Second Harvest Heartland Wins $50,000 Award from Morgan Stanley

Wednesday, July 2nd, 2014

morgan stanley volunteersLast week, Second Harvest Heartland received a $50,000 grant from Morgan Stanley to expand child hunger initiatives. This gift will allow us to provide an additional 185,000 meals to children and families in Minnesota and western Wisconsin.

The grant is part of the latest phase of the Morgan Stanley’s Fill the Plate initiative, a more than $14 million commitment to Feeding America and its network of 200 local food banks (including Second Harvest Heartland) that distribute millions of meals every year to children and families across the United States. As part of the initiative, Morgan Stanley will award more than $4 million over three years to local food banks like Second Harvest Heartland to launch, expand and sustain critical childhood feeding programs. Along with their generous financial support, local Morgan Stanley employees have amplified their commitment by donating their time and volunteering.

“We are honored to be able to help the Second Harvest Heartland food bank in its important fight against child hunger,” said Morgan Stanley Executive Director Mark Gherity. “Giving back to the communities where we live and work is one of Morgan Stanley’s core values.”

Nationwide, child hunger is a critical problem. According to the United States Department of Agriculture, nearly 16 million children across the country lack consistent access to the minimum amounts of nutritious food considered necessary for a healthy life. In Minnesota, this equates to one in six kids not having enough food on any given day.

To see exactly what child hunger looks like in your community, visit Feeding America’s Map the Meal Gap tool.

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

Thursday, June 26th, 2014

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 16 and June 28, 2014, Bremer Bank will match your donation $2-for-$1, up to $35,000! Make a donation at your local Bremer Bank or at

Or if you’re looking for a fun, low-cost way to contribute, take the Meals for Many quiz here and share your results. For every Meals for Many quiz that’s completed, Bremer Bank will donate $1 — up to $5,000.

Thank you, Bremer Bank, for your continued support of hunger relief in our community!

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

Monday, June 16th, 2014

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 16 and June 28, 2014, Bremer Bank will match your donation $2-for-$1, up to $35,000! Make a donation at your local Bremer Bank or at

Or if you’re looking for a fun, low-cost way to contribute, take the Meals for Many quiz here and share your results. For every Meals for Many quiz that’s completed, Bremer Bank will donate $1 — up to $5,000.

Thank you, Bremer Bank, for your continued support of hunger relief in our community!

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.”

Fight Hunger with Kid President

Tuesday, May 27th, 2014

Breaking news: Summertime is not awesome for everyone.

So, in order to make this summer MORE awesome, Kid President has teamed with ConAgra Foods, Inc. to raise awareness of child hunger this summer. The ConAgra Foods Foundation is donating the monetary equivalent of one meal to Feeding America for every view, like, or share of this video!

$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.”

Move to More Fresh Food Resonates in Hunger Relief

Friday, April 11th, 2014

The growing need
Americans are increasingly focused on our peas and carrots. From healthier school lunches to farmers markets, we as a nation are more conscious of the link between nutrition and health. That awareness is reflected in the evolving emergency hunger relief system. Second Harvest Heartland is working to collect and distribute more fresh and nutritious food than ever. Last year, we collected more than 5.9 million pounds of produce from over 50 different growers, and continue to expand our Retail Food Rescue program.

Second Harvest Heartland, and food banks across the country, are in conversation about how to best balance agency partners’ high volume needs for food of all kinds with an increased focus on fresh foods.

We go where the food is
Along with a network of generous partners, Second Harvest Heartland spent the last two harvest seasons successfully piloting ways to capture agricultural surplus in Minnesota—tapping into the more than 200 million pounds of corn, peas and potatoes that go unharvested every year due to weather and other issues.

The sweetest success so far has been our sweet corn rescue project. In collaboration with Hunger-Free Minnesota, Cargill, Seneca Foods, Pinnacle Foods Inc., General Mills, C.H. Robinson, SUPERVALU, other growers and a team of Feeding America food banks, 860,000 pounds of sweet corn were rescued and delivered to food banks in Minnesota and across the country.

That success led to a partnership with Feeding America to form the Second Harvest Heartland-based Produce Capture Institute (PCI) to share best practices across the Feeding America network to build agricultural surplus collection and distribution capacity.

An apple a day
When clients visit the VEAP Food Pantry in Bloomington, Minn., they appreciate receiving fresh produce, according to Nathan Rust, VEAP food program manager. “Many individuals tell us that if apples and other fresh produce items weren’t available at the food shelf they would simply have to go without as they have trouble affording them at the local stores. Many individuals that we serve deal with health issues and access to healthy fresh produce is essential for their nutritional needs,” says Rust. Second Harvest Heartland distributes food to VEAP.

A Message from Our CEO

Tuesday, April 1st, 2014

How important is having enough food to eat? It means living healthily to help fight against chronic disease. It means being more mentally focused and able to learn and succeed in school or at work instead of worrying about your next meal. Food is a solid defense against important issues the world throws at us, and we are proud that Second Harvest Heartland is on the front lines of getting more food to those who need help with this important bridge to stability.

Last year, we introduced a new tagline: “Food Changes Everything”™. These words sum up not only the essence of what we do at Second Harvest Heartland, but also how food brings hope. We believe food lifts people out of hunger as well as despair. Our mission is to end hunger through community partnerships such as those we have with thousands of donors, volunteers, agency programs and organizations such as Feeding America, a national network of more than 200 food banks. And by staying true to our values that guide how we operate—including our approach that “We are all in this
together”—we are making progress on our goal of ending hunger right here in Minnesota and Wisconsin.

If you’re already supporting Second Harvest Heartland with donations of dollars, time or food, I thank you for partnering with us in this crucial work. If you haven’t had a chance to help us defend our community against hunger, I hope the stories in our Annual Community Report, published last week in the Pioneer Press, will inspire you to join us.

- Rob Zeaske, Chief Executive Officer

Help Outnumber Hunger with General Mills and Sam’s Club

Wednesday, March 12th, 2014

With summer approaching, Second Harvest Heartland and area food shelves are preparing for an increase in demand for food assistance from clients during the summer months. These families often rely on free or reduced-cost breakfast and lunch to help feed children during the school year, and may have to rely on assistance from food banks to help fill the gap.

That’s why the Outnumber Hunger campaign, a national initiative that helps fight hunger in local communities through partnerships between companies such as General Mills, Feeding America and Big Machine Label Group, is so important. During last year alone, Outnumber Hunger helped Feeding America secure more than 6 million meals!

This year, Sam’s Club is partnering with Feeding America to secure an additional 1.5 million meals for member food banks through Outnumber Hunger.

There are three ways you can help:

  • From March 12-24 text “HUNGER” to 80153, then enter your zip code so the donation is made on behalf of your local food bank. You’ve secured 12 meals.
  • Visit your local Sam’s Club store and purchase specially marked General Mills products. Codes can be entered through January 2015 at You’ve just secured 12 more meals.
  • Members can also donate food at their local Sam’s Club in the donation bins through March 24. This food will be picked up after March 24 and help those in our neighborhood.

Participate at your local Sam’s Club, and help provide more meals for our hungry neighbors.

Campaign to Minnesota Farmers Urges Them to Help Solve Hunger Locally

Friday, February 14th, 2014

Harvest to End Hunger Minnesota

A big factor in battling hunger in rural communities might just be the people who are already feeding the world. The six Feeding America food banks serving local regions in Minnesota have joined forces to offer farmers simple ways to help fight hunger in their local communities – Harvest to End Hunger Minnesota launched to the public this week.

Harvest to End Hunger Minnesota is one-stop resource that invites Minnesota farmers to give in one of two ways—by donating dollars from non-edible crop sales at their local elevator (using Invest an Acre) or by donating produce crops to the food banks (through the Share Fresh program).

“Farmers are in the business of feeding people and Harvest to End Hunger Minnesota gives them a way to show their generosity for those in their communities who are hungry,” says Laurel Feddema, chief community engagement officer. “For participating food banks, this is a way to bring in support of funds and food and is a way to let farmers know they can help solve hunger occurs in their own communities.”

Farmers are now being urged to participate in Feeding America’s Invest an Acre program by pledging revenue from their 2014 crops, with an overall goal of 1,000 acres worth pledged in Minnesota this year.  One hundred percent of the donation stays in the farmer’s community, and all of the money goes directly to buy food for hungry families. The Monsanto Company matches the farmer’s donation, dollar for dollar, up to $675.000 nationally, doubling the impact.

The coalition of participating food banks includes Channel One Regional Food Bank, Great Plains Food Bank, North Country Food Bank, Inc., Second Harvest Heartland, Second Harvest North Central Food Bank and Second Harvest Northern Lakes Food Bank.

Learn more about Harvest to End Hunger Minnesota or make your pledge today.

You can also help us spread the word by joining us on Facebook.

One Million Pounds of Bread Provided to Our Community

Monday, January 27th, 2014

Sincere thanks to Pan-O-Gold Baking Co./Country Hearth Breads, a family-owned and operated bakery in the upper Midwest, for generously donating more than one million pounds of bread to eight Feeding America food banks in the Midwest—including Second Harvest Heartland— in 2013.

Their partnership with Second Harvest Heartland began five years ago when they realized the growing need for emergency food assistance.

“We knew there was a growing need in our communities, and it was something we took very seriously,” says Jimmy Hanson, Vice President of Sales, Minneapolis Area, with Pan-O-Gold Baking Co./Country Hearth Breads. “Our company has been blessed, and giving back to the community was something we wanted to do. If we can’t help each other, who else can we help?”

Thank you, Pan-O-Gold Baking Co./Country Hearth Breads, for your generous support! You are truly making a difference in the lives of our hungry neighbors.