Leading Through Innovation

The Hunger and Health Project

Does improved access to food mean improved health outcomes? That’s the question we’re asking in our Hunger and Health Project, an initiative that brings together hunger relief and health care—two large relief systems that have historically functioned apart from each other.

The hunger and health gap

The Hunger in America 2014 study showed that clients visiting food shelves have a higher likelihood of chronic disease and poor health. What’s more, health care professionals who encounter hungry patients may not know the best way to help them find the foods they need. The Hunger and Health Project lets us connect with more people in need: families who may not visit our partner food shelves, but who can be reached through healthcare providers.

Pilots to meet hungry patients’ needs

Thanks to generous donations from the Margaret A. Cargill Philanthropies, Bank of America and Humana, plus pro bono support from Boston Consulting Group, Accelare and Microsoft, Second Harvest Heartland will work with health care providers to pilot food delivery to patients in several Minnesota communities in 2016–2017. We will also pilot health prevention desks to help connect patients to food and other basic need resources.

Case study: Hennepin County Medical Center

Hennepin County Medical Center (HCMC) has long connected families with food resources through its onsite Food Shelf. Last year, Second Harvest Heartland’s Supplemental Nutrition Outreach Program (SNAP), partnered with HCMC to refer hundreds of patients who need food to resources such as SNAP, food shelves, meal programs and more.

Leading with heart: Second Harvest Heartland Board of Directors

Second Harvest Heartland’s Board of Directors is a dedicated group that volunteers many hours to oversee and implement our mission of ending hunger through community partnerships. We asked members of the Board of Directions Executive Committee a few questions about their involvement with the Board, and their passion for hunger relief.

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How did you get involved with Second Harvest Heartland?


In your opinion, what is the impact of Second Harvest Heartland’s work in the community?


Which of Second Harvest Heartland’s strategic priorities excites you most, and why?


Leading with values first: Second Harvest Heartland staff

Leadership isn’t always about a big idea. Sometimes it’s the small deed or gracious action that reveals the heart and mind of a leader. Second Harvest Heartland staff brings those activities to light by nominating colleagues who put our Vision and Values into action. Here are just a few of the more than 250 Vision and Values stories that celebrate staff leadership during the past year:


Jess Swanson, Volunteer Services

Jess’s usual role is to manage volunteers. One day last summer, a couple came into Second Harvest Heartland West, and said, We’re hungry. Jess stopped everything to conduct quick research online and found three locations the couple could visit that day for food. Thanks to Jess, they had a meal that night and now know where to turn for help.


Willie Thomas, Production

Willie went out of his way to include a group of volunteers with special needs in a special project to pack rolled oats instead of their usual bag labeling activity. After careful instruction, the volunteers loved the more demanding project and even stayed late to finish up. Willie’s patience and clear guidance made the day extra special for our volunteers.


Erin Anderson, Hunger Programs

Erin is continually looking for ways to reach seniors in need of a CSFP food box each month. Recently, Erin sent out 600+ postcards to seniors who are registered for the program but have not picked up food boxes for a few months. Within three days we had calls flooding in from individuals who wanted to restart the program!

2015 staff stats

  • icon-staff@1x.pngNumber of full-time employees: 143
  • icon-moon@1x.pngNumber of second-shift employees: 9
  • icon-new-employee@1x.pngNumber of new employees: 23
  • icon-interns@1x.pngNumber of interns: 50 interns, contributing more than 5,800 hours
  • icon-duck@1x.pngNumber of Second Harvest Heartland babies born in 2015: 5
  • icon-book@1x.pngNumber of Second Harvest Heartland book club meetings: 7

Learn more about our Second Harvest Heartland staff.

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