It Started with a Work Injury
Brian moved to Minnesota this summer, having gotten a job with the intent to save money for a place to live. The first week of employment at his new job, Brian was severely burned on his leg.
Because of his injury, he couldn’t work, couldn’t save up and he was living out of his car. The expensive medical care paired with the inability to work made his first few weeks in Minnesota feel impossible.
While being treated for his burn, a medical professional at Hennepin County Medical Center (HCMC) referred Brian to Second Harvest Heartland’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) outreach specialists, recognizing he may have been struggling with hunger.
Carrie, one of our SNAP outreach specialists, received the tip from HCMC’s referral system, in which HCMC patients are screened to find out if they have enough to eat at home. If they don’t have enough, a computer-generated referral is sent to Second Harvest Heartland upon the patient’s consent. By using the health system to reach more of our neighbors, it’s estimated that 30-45 million more meals can be delivered in the Heartland each year. SNAP referrals are just one piece of a larger Hunger & Health initiative.
Once Carrie received Brian’s referral, she gave him a call. When the two of them connected, he shared some of his story with her. Drawing on her knowledge and connections to resources, Carrie took action on Brian’s behalf.
She made some phone calls to ensure Brian had a place to stay for the next month. He received information on the nearest food shelves, and about contacting a social worker to learn about possibly getting on disability for his injury. In the end, Second Harvest Heartland was able to provide a lot more than food.
“A big part of what we do is build relationships,” said Carrie. “There’s so much more to assistance than asking for handouts.”
Often, people struggling with hunger are struggling with more than not having the means to feed themselves and their families. Many hungry neighbors are also struggling with hardships in accessing their veteran benefits, or their kids or grandkids are diagnosed with diabetes, or other similar diet-specific chronic diseases.
SNAP outreach specialists take time with hungry neighbors and help guide them through what can be a challenging SNAP application process, but they also serve as a connection to essential resources and people in the community.
It is important for struggling seniors, working families and others to know about every possible nutrition assistance opportunity. One simple conversation with a SNAP outreach specialist can connect someone to many different access points, and ultimately change a life.
When you support Second Harvest Heartland, you are helping people like Brian find stability during a challenging time.
If you are experiencing hunger, visit our Get Help Finding Food page.
To protect the privacy of those we serve, a representative photo has been used.