Colleen Moriarty, executive director of Hunger Solutions Minnesota, says hunger in the state has risen, with food shelf use up sharply since the recession began.
"The need has grown exponentially, particularly in the last three years. We've seen this dramatic increase in people who are signed on for public support programs like food support or SNAP, and for people using food shelves."
Hunger has increased dramatically for Minnesota children. During the summer of 2009, nearly 370,000 food shelf visits provided emergency food to children in the state. A 2010 first-quarter review shows that visits to food shelves involving a child are up 10 percent over last year.
Alexis Walstad, communications and program services director with Open Your Heart to the Hungry and Homeless, says seniors are also one of the fastest rising populations using food shelves - which, she says, is a sign of the times.
"In Minnesota, and with senior citizens especially, people are often reluctant to ask for help, and so seeing this huge increase in numbers is really telling of the situation that people are in right now," said Walstad.
Walstad says September is a critical time to raise awareness about hunger issues. She says people often give to food drives during the holidays, but that's not the only time food is needed. "It's a very important issue throughout the year, especially coming off of summer, which is actually the highest period of food shelf usage for Minnesota food shelves. The food shelves in a lot of communities are pretty bare right now," she said.
The grant is a proportional match based on the total dollars raised by individual food shelves. The bigger the amount raised, the bigger the match, with a minimum grant of $250 and a maximum of $4,000.
A list of participating food shelves is available at www.hungersolutions.org.