The additional funding comes at a critical time, with the demand for food assistance still breaking records.
MINNEAPOLIS — Days before families gather for their Thanksgiving feasts, Minnesota’s food shelves received a needed boost in funding.
On Monday, Gov. Tim Walz and Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan announced $5 million in new funding for Minnesota’s food shelves. The additional funding — allocated from the American Rescue Plan Act — comes with perfect timing, as food insecurity continues to be a prevalent challenge with a corresponding unprecedented need for help.
“Every single month is a record,” said Matthew Ayres, executive director of Joyce Uptown Food Shelf.
He added, “A year ago, we were doing 55,000 pounds of food. This year, we’re doing 70,000 pounds of food every month.”
That trend is reflected in a statewide reality: According to Minnesota Department of Human Services Commissioner Jodi Harpstead, about 5.5 million people visited the state’s food shelves in 2022; this year, that number is expected to be closer to 7 million.
“This is powerful, life-changing work, and we cannot take keeping peoples’ bellies full for granted,” Lt. Gov. Flanagan said on Monday during a press conference announcing the additional funding.
The funds will be allocated to Minnesota’s seven regional food banks, which will then, “support the purchase and distribution of in-demand foods at food shelves.”
“This money is $5 million for food banks across the state to buy food, which will help,” said Second Harvest Heartland CEO Allison O’Toole.
The funding also comes in addition to $5 million in emergency food shelf funding the Governor signed into law in February.
Despite the state boost, individual food shelves say they’re still desperately struggling to make ends meet, while dealing with inflation, the end of pandemic support programs and unprecedented demand.
“We’re still in the red. And we’re struggling to make budget this year,” Ayers said, as he stood near shelves stocked with stuffing, gravy and corn.
Ayers encouraged everyone to still consider donating to their local food shelf, but he also cautioned generous donors to first reach out to their nearest food shelf to confirm what they really need.
“Finding out what your local food shelf needs and then creating a relationship with them — it could be donations, it could be volunteering, it could be financial support,” he said.
For their part, Ayers said the Joyce Uptown Food Shelf especially welcomes non-expired canned foods, ramen noodles, pasta, tampons, pads and baby wipes, but said monetary donations are “the most important.”
To learn what food shelf is located closest to you – and how you can support them during the holiday season – just go to Hunger Solutions Minnesota.
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