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Minnesota Census Data: Only Seniors Slipping

Colleen Moriarty of Hunger Solutions says in the last couple of years, more Minnesotans lean on food shelves toward the end of the month. (Michael Swan/FlickR)
Colleen Moriarty of Hunger Solutions says in the last couple of years, more Minnesotans lean on food shelves toward the end of the month. (Michael Swan/FlickR)
September 15, 2017

ST. PAUL, Minn. – U.S. Census data released Thursday had mostly good news for Minnesota, as it continues to recover from the recession. Median income is up, as is the proportion of Minnesotans with health insurance, and the overall poverty rate is down.

One pocket of bad news is the poverty rate for seniors. That rose from 6.9 percent in 2015 to 7.2 percent in 2016.

Colleen Moriarty with Hunger Solutions says she's been seeing more seniors using food stamps and food shelves for the last 2 and a half years.

"So that population we see as becoming more and more at risk," she says. "People who are frail just have fewer and fewer options"

Census numbers show that Minnesotans are aging, with 21.4 percent over age 60 in 2016, compared with 20.8 percent in 2015 and 18.3 percent in 2010.

The data also showed continued disparities between how well Minnesotans of color are doing compared with white Minnesotans. What the data don't capture is how the price of transportation, housing and health care have gone up, and made it difficult for low-wage workers, disabled people and seniors on fixed incomes to keep up.

"We need to marshal enough resources to make sure there's enough food to feed those people and that it's food that they can use in cooperation with their medications and other things and that it's high-quality nutritional food that will keep them independent longer," she explains.

Hunger Solutions recently published a map that shows southwestern Minnesota and some northern parts of the state use food shelves the most.

Laurie Stern, Public News Service - MN