More Access to Healthy Food
Providing more food access
The biggest issue with hunger is not the amount of available food, but access to that food. With your help, last year we were able to invest in new programs, continue advocacy efforts and expand our sourcing efforts to reach more people with more food, today and into the future.
One of the ways we are reaching more people is by partnering with the health care system. Historically, food access, nutrition, health care and hunger relief systems have functioned largely apart from each other. This changed in September 2016, with the formal launch of FOODRx a pilot project that expands the capacity of hospitals, clinics and other health systems to provide help. This program pre-enrolls some patients in food box “prescriptions,” while also including a physical presence in CentraCare in St. Cloud where Second Harvest Heartland staffs a Health Resource Center. The Health Resource Center serves as a resource for patients for screening and access to food and other basic resources, such as housing.
According to a study done in partnership with Boston Consulting Group, we have the opportunity to provide an additional 30 to 45 million meals into the local hunger relief system when we continue to invest in these partnerships.
I had referred a patient even though I thought they probably didn’t need any resources. Turns out, they didn’t have enough food and could really benefit from our program. It was a good reminder to me that we don’t know what battles each other are dealing with.
Dr. Dianna Cutts, a pediatrician from Hennepin County Medical Center and partner in the program, shared a few stories of how hunger impacts her patients.
Fresh, healthy food
By working to access available fresh, wholesome food, we are increasing the amount of available produce and other fresh items like meat and dairy products to our hungry neighbors year-round. While traditional sources of food donations like cans and boxes of shelf-stable food are declining the need for food isn’t. It is critical that we work to collect and create access to food from sources like farms and grocery stores.
While our partnership continues with local growers, last year our produce rescue efforts expanded nationally in order to focus on collection of available agricultural products year-round. Through the Midwest Region Produce Cooperative, we partnered with food banks across the Midwest to lead with collection and distribution throughout our region.
With Second Harvest Heartland spearheading the mixing center, we have time to look at numbers of people we’re serving, reduce our costs and reduce our waste
Retail Food Rescue
Our Retail Food Rescue program continues to be our largest source of donated food. This program provides an innovative solution to food waste for local retailers and connects our agency partners directly with retailers. Although logistically complex, most of the food from this program will never reach our warehouse, it will go directly on to the plates of our hungry neighbors.
Elevating the issue of hunger
In partnership with the government sector, Second Harvest Heartland has led a state-wide effort over the past year to help elevate the issue of hunger and provide solutions. Most notably, the Farm to Foodshelf grant, funded by the State of Minnesota, made sourcing much of the locally grown produce we provide to our partners possible.
It makes my heart feel good to know that I can help someone that is deserving. It’s hard for a producer to have a product that you’re just going to turn back into the soil.