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Thousands of Minnesotans Start Thanksgiving Holiday by Helping the Hungry

November 22, 2011

BLOOMINGTON, Minn. - Before sitting down for that big turkey dinner, thousands of Minnesotans will head to the Mall of America on Thanksgiving morning for the fourth annual Walk to End Hunger.

Elizabeth Saevig, director of resource development and marketing for the Emergency FoodShelf Network, says they hope to raise awareness along with thousands of pounds of food and $400,000.

"The idea is really just to give back before giving thanks. It gives people an opportunity to come to the Mall of America, do an indoor 5K and learn about hunger relief and how they can really make a difference in their community and meet that most basic of needs."

The walk comes as hunger in Minnesota has doubled in the last five years, Saevig says, along with an increasing number of children living in poverty.

"There's a very, very steep rise in the need for emergency food programs. All food shelves are reporting higher numbers, higher usage of food stamps and enrollment in the free and reduced school meal programs. It really is an issue that's hitting hard in Minnesota."

While the problem of hunger is everywhere, from the small rural town to the inner city, Saevig says they're seeing the greatest increase in need in the suburbs, with a rise in the number of jobless people.

"We're finally at this point where a lot of people, their unemployment benefits have run out and so they don't have anywhere else to turn. Now they're making that choice of 'Do I pay my mortgage and keep my house, or do I put food on the table?' "

Those wishing to donate or assemble a team to take part in the event can find details online at WalkToEndHunger.org.

John Michaelson, Public News Service - MN