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Report: Many Minnesota Cupboards Are Empty

February 10, 2010

MINNEAPOLIS - Almost 14 percent of Minnesota households report they didn't have enough money to buy the food they needed in 2009, making President Obama's goal of ending childhood hunger by 2015 a task that is growing more daunting.

Colleen Moriarty, executive director of Hunger Solutions Minnesota, wants all parts of government to work together to implement long-term strategies to battle the nation's hunger crisis. She says she's not surprised by the recent Minnesota figures from the Food Research and Action Center.

"There are so many set costs people have, that they have no flexibility with, that food really becomes a luxury in many cases. We see it by the fact that there are so many people, in record numbers, visiting food shelves, and increases in the amount of people participating in federal programs like SNAP or the Food Support."

She says both her organization and the Food Research and Action Center are pushing for improvements to SNAP, as well as supporting efforts to boost the economy, create jobs and reduce unemployment. In the Minneapolis/St.Paul/Bloomington area, the report shows the food hardship rate was even higher for households with children, at 18.6 percent.

People who are in need of food assistance can call the Minnesota Food Helpline at 1-888-711-1151; Moriarty says it's important to know what kinds of help are available.

"We need to continue to get the message of hunger out into the community, let people know that in this time of hardship that people really do need a helping hand and it means that our work is compounded by the fact that the economy is slower to regain growth than we had hoped."

The report also shows Minnesota's numbers are better than most other areas of the nation. Forty-seven other states had higher numbers, with Mississippi topping the list. Just over 26 percent of its population experienced food hardship. See the full report online at www.frac.org.

Laura Thornquist, Public News Service - MN