Most of us are not even aware of what hunger means.
We take our daily sustenance for granted when we should be looking at those in need for food.
There are many ways to help, our neighborhood food shelves being a surefire way to help those in need.
Many of our ECM/Sun communities have food shelves that always welcome food and cash donations to help those in need.
I have been fortunate over the years to have been directly involved in food drives via the arm of the Forest Lake Lions Club.
The Forest Lake Lions have worked with local food stores to collect food from shoppers while they are buying groceries at their local stores.
Cub Foods and Rainbow Foods have both been most cooperative in letting the Lions collect food.
The food has then been donated by the Lions to either Family Pathways, Forest Lake Area Community Helping Hand or the Anoka County food shelves.
Gov. Mark Dayton recently designated March as Minnesota FoodShare Month.
In his proclamation, Dayton noted that through the efforts of the March campaign, food shelves throughout the state are able to distribute millions of pounds of food annually to ease the effects of hunger.
In his proclamation, Gov. Dayton said the need is sobering:
• More than 510,000 Minnesotans receive food support – more people than the combined populations of Minneapolis and Duluth.
• Between 2008 and 2010, statewide visits to food shelves increased 62 percent. In the nine-county Twin Cities metropolitan area, visits jumped by 97 percent.
• According to a September 2011 report by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, 10.3 percent of Minnesotans lived in households that sometimes struggle to get enough food.
Go to the Minnesota FoodShare website to find more information about ways we can all help those fighting hunger: http://mnfoodshare.gmcc.org/index.php
Minnesota FoodShare directs the March Campaign, the largest food drive in the state and restocks 300 food shelves across Minnesota.
It recruits thousands of congregations, companies, schools and community groups to run local fund and food drives to aid in the effort.
The FoodShare website tells us: “Minnesota FoodShare organizes a statewide media campaign to promote food shelf donations.
“It produces and distributes free promotional and educational resources for food drive organizers.
“It acts as a clearinghouse for cash donations and distributes the funds to participating Minnesota food shelves.
“Throughout the year, Minnesota FoodShare advocates on behalf of hungry Minnesota families with both state and federal lawmakers and educates the public about hunger in Minnesota.”
Read about The Hunger Challenge in Sherburne County as reported in the Star News by Briana Sutherland.
The story follows Otsego Mayor Jessica Stockamp as one of the Hunger Challenge participants.
Her husband Jim participated with her so they can help and supported each other during the week while their three children participated with their parents at evening meals.
Star News Associate Editor Joni Astrup posted a story on The Hunger Challenge involvement of Elk River Mayor John Dietz and his wife Jayne.
Mayor Dietz and his wife were doing their grocery shopping for a week as part of The Hunger Challenge, in which they agreed to live on a food support budget for a week.
The budget was $27.35 per person per week, which amounts to $3.91 a day.
Dietz was doing the challenge along with Stockamp, Zimmerman Mayor Dave Earenfight and others.
The challenge ran from March 4-11 and brings awareness to hunger during the annual March campaign to restock local food shelves, including CAER in Elk River and CROSS in Rogers.
Here’s some Minnesota FoodShare “Hunger Facts”:
• From 2008 to 2010, visits to food shelves increased by 62 percent statewide, according to Hunger Solutions. In the nine-county Twin Cities metropolitan area, the jump was an even more startling 97 percent.
• According to a September 2011 report by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, 10.3 percent of Minnesotans live in households that sometimes struggle to get enough food.
• Lack of proper nutrition often leads to a number of costly health issues. Hunger Free Minnesota reports poor health costs the state approximately $2,329 more per person for medical expenses, about $925 million annually in direct medical expenses.
• Since 2008, Second Harvest Heartland reports visits by seniors to Minnesota’s suburban emergency food programs increased more than 70 percent.
• During January-March 2011, Hunger Solutions reported food shelf visits increased 7.5 percent from 2010.
• According to the Minnesota Department of Human Services, there were 515,000 residents enrolled in food support in April 2011, an 18.8 percent increase in one year.
• In 2010, Hunger Solutions found that 39 percent of visits to food shelves were for children under 18 and another 9 percent were made by the elderly.
• In 2010, there were more than three million visits to Minnesota food shelves.
• Thirty-six percent of visitors to metro-area food shelves reported having at least one working adult in the household, according to Hunger Solutions.
• According to U.S Census Bureau figures, 15 percent of Minnesota children, or about 190,000, were living in poverty last year, an increase of about 18,000 from 2009.
• Suburban poverty rates are outpacing those in the urban centers of the Twin Cities and as a result, suburban food shelves in Hennepin County reported a 64 percent increase in usage in 2009, according to the Minnesota Department of Human Services.
• In 2010, Hunger Solutions reported Minnesota seniors enrolled in food support at unprecedented numbers (29,586), an 18 percent increase over 2009.
• More than 35 percent of eligible Minnesotans were not enrolled in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) in 2010, even though they qualified, according to the Minnesota Department of Human Services.
Editor’s note: Howard Lestrud is ECM online managing editor.