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MN Food Shelves Need Cash Donations to Keep Lights On

Hunger fighting advocates say Minnesota food shelves could use cash donations to help them keep longer hours and serve more people. (Maryhere)
Hunger fighting advocates say Minnesota food shelves could use cash donations to help them keep longer hours and serve more people. (Maryhere)
October 23, 2019

ST. PAUL, Minn. – As winter approaches, operators of food shelves across Minnesota hope to take in loads of donated items to help people in need survive the colder months.

But hunger fighting advocates say cash donations are even more important these days.

People who run the food shelves say money is sometimes the best way to give, because client needs have changed.

Colleen Moriarty, executive director of Hunger Solutions Minnesota, says food banks are helping a lot of people who are working poor, so food bank locations need to be open later, and on weekends.

"That all takes money to turn the lights on, and volunteers or paid staff to keep it going," she states.

Hunger Solutions is responsible for distributing grants to food shelves across the state.

Moriarty says when those locations submit expense reports, they often cite a struggle to meet operating costs, since most of the grant money is spent on food.

Another reason cash donations are important is that they allow food shelf customers to select items that meet their needs.

Moriarty says with more money on hand, local pantries can establish programs that provide those specific items.

"It used to be you got food in a bag, you know, when you went to a food shelf a long time ago, and some of it just wasn't appropriate for people who had special dietary needs or health challenges," she states.

According to a 2017 Hunger Solutions Minnesota survey, 93% of respondents said they wanted more fruits and vegetables from food shelves.

Moriarty says the recent trade wars have provided a boost in that regard. Farmers haven't had as big a foreign market, so the government has been purchasing surplus commodities – and more of those resources have made their way to food shelves.

Disclosure: Hunger Solutions Minnesota contributes to our fund for reporting on Hunger/Food/Nutrition, Livable Wages/Working Families. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.
Mike Moen, Public News Service - MN