Hunger Persists in Minnesota Despite Economic Upswing
ST. PAUL, Minn. – Many of the leading economic indicators in Minnesota, such as the unemployment rate and manufacturing, continue to improve, but the rebound is not being fully felt when it comes to families struggling to put food on the table.
Just released figures show that 11 percent of households in the state were food insecure in 2013, about the same as the year before, says Colleen Moriarty, executive director of Hunger Solutions Minnesota.
"Flat is the new reality,” she stresses. “The new reality since the recession is that we have this enormous part of the population in Minnesota who are really in peril."
Nationally, the story is similar, as a new report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture shows about 14 percent of households were food insecure last year, essentially unchanged from 2012.
While some families that took hits during the recession have been regaining their financial footing, Moriarty says it takes time to fully recover, especially for those who lost jobs.
"If they've been unemployed for a while, they have bills to catch up on,” she points out. “Their savings is gone.
“They may be re-employed, but they may be re-employed at a much lower rate than they previously had been.
“We know that it takes people 18 to 24 months to really get back on their feet."
One important piece to helping those families with children, explains Moriarty, is the free school lunch program, which Minnesota lawmakers expanded this past session to reach an additional 61,000 low-income students this school year.