The Faces of Hunger

The Faces of Hunger

Meet some of the people who are struggling with hunger—people you are helping with your support. They have unique experiences, hard decisions to make and stories to tell.


Joseph is proud of his accomplishments, and works hard to try to make ends meet. After graduating from Dunwoody College in 2010, he started his own company, all while raising his children. After things fell through with his business partner, he was forced to find other odd jobs as a mover and handy man.

Even though he works hard, he still struggles to provide for his family and have enough to eat.

I've done a lot of things to try and prepare myself, but you can't be prepared for everything,” said Joseph. “Sometimes we're living paycheck to paycheck. Paying bills comes first and there's not always money for food. I don't have cable or anything; just the bare minimum.

When Joseph is low on food, he visits a Loaves and Fishes meal site in Minneapolis, an agency partner that Second Harvest Heartland supports.

People don't realize how much food costs,” said Joseph. “Loaves and Fishes is great, and is an important resource for people who are less fortunate, especially coming out of the economy that we just did.


By day, Warren volunteers in the kitchen of the Dorothy Day Center in St. Paul. By night, he sleeps on a mat on the floor of the very kitchen he works so hard to run.

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As a volunteer, he gets to choose his spot on the floor—up against the lockers in the corner so he only has people on two sides of him, instead of four. He calls this the “Fort Snelling” corner.

Warren enjoys giving back to the Dorothy Day Center, since it’s helped him so much in the months he’s been relying on its services—especially the free meals he eats there at least two times a day.

Warren is attending work skills training for apartment maintenance.

I’m hoping to get a job once I finish my training, and get back on my feet, said Warren.


Irene is a cancer patient living on a fixed income in a senior community center in St. Paul. She regularly attends the summer produce distributions held within the senior center and visits the Francis Basket food shelf to help supplement her grocery budget. She relies on the produce distributions for most of the produce in her diet.

Fruits and vegetables, I can never get enough of them,” said Irene. “If I arrive early enough to the produce distributions, I like to help set up. It's great to help when you're on a fixed income, and I try to pay them back with my time.


Shannon and his three daughters visit the produce drop at the Wellstone Center in St. Paul every month during the summer. The family of four visited their first produce drop last year and has relied on their monthly trips ever since to help supplement their grocery budget.

The produce distributions help me stretch my family's healthy eating all winter. Because of what I get at the produce distributions, I don't need to buy potatoes, tomatoes or cabbage all winter long. I go to the store, and all I have to buy is meat, milk and eggs because my freezer is packed full of produce,” said Shannon. “I like to feed my kids fruits and veggies to keep them healthy.


When Patti moved back to Minnesota from Arizona in August to care for ill relatives, she never thought it would take so long to find a job. With limited income and five kids at home, Patti gets creative and uses all resources available to make sure there's enough food for her family. Here's what a typical month might look like for Patti:


First week of the month

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Patti calls her local food shelf to make an appointment for a visit. They serve 14 people a day. She calls as soon as possible on Monday for her appointment, but sometimes she'll have to wait until Tuesday to visit.

Patti doesn't know what she'll be getting until her appointment arrives, but she'll likely get an assortment of shelf-stable food items like pasta, rice, soup, cereal and beans along with fresh items like meat and gift cards for milk.

Throughout the month

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Patti uses what she receives from the food shelf and clips coupons, visiting multiple stores to get the best deals to round out meals for the week.

End of the month

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Food shelf supplies have often run out by the end of the month and her purse strings are a little tighter so she utilizes a lot of simple, inexpensive meals like ramen.