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MN Provides More Funds to Fight Hunger, But Uncertainty Looms

New projections suggest that as many as 750,000 Minnesotans will be experiencing food insecurity by the fall, meaning they're not always sure where their next meal is coming from. (Adobe Stock)
New projections suggest that as many as 750,000 Minnesotans will be experiencing food insecurity by the fall, meaning they're not always sure where their next meal is coming from. (Adobe Stock)
July 9, 2020

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- Minnesota food banks and food shelves will see more funding come their way to help meet increased demand during the pandemic.

According to a top aid group, the additional money helps -- but without more federal assistance, funding might dry up.

Gov. Tim Walz announced that $12 million from the CARES Act will be distributed as part of a broader effort to support the 350 food shelves and seven food banks in Minnesota.

He said the crisis has left many Minnesotans struggling with food insecurity.

"Now in the time of COVID, we've got one in eight of our neighbors that does not know where their next meal is coming from," said Walz. "Transportation, to get to places where there's food, has become a challenge."

According to the state, food shelves across Minnesota have served 300,000 people each month since the start of the pandemic, a 30% increase compared with normal times.

One group working with both the state and food shelves, Hunger Solutions, has said Minnesota's emergency food system has done a good job responding to the crisis. But as state revenue declines, there might not be additional funding down the road if Congress doesn't authorize more relief packages.

Hunger Solutions Executive Director Colleen Moriarty noted that the Minnesota economy hasn't fully reopened and many people still are out of work. She said that's why another round of federal aid is crucial in the event the crisis sees additional waves, pushing state government to the brink.

"They're going to be in a terrible budget crisis," Moriarty predicted, "and there's only so much the state can do if they're not funded appropriately through the federal government."

Congressional leaders have been discussing a fifth coronavirus relief bill, but the two major parties are at odds over what the package should include.

Meanwhile, Moriarty said Minnesota is still seeing immediate hunger gaps, including helping neighborhoods affected by the recent unrest over the police killing of George Floyd.

Despite the overwhelming response through donations, she said, these areas are in need of more culturally appropriate food.

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