Child Hunger Initiative
Childhood hunger in Minnesota is a serious and prevalent issue that can affect both kids’ day-to-day lives and their long-term ability to succeed. When young ones are hungry, anxiety and poor behaviors rise, learning is compromised and physical and mental development can be affected.
Second Harvest Heartland understands how hunger can destabilize families, and is committed to a number of powerful efforts in our Child Hunger Initiative that give more children and families meaningful access to affordable, wholesome food.
Our Food Bank
Through its core business, Second Harvest Heartland distributes more than 77 million meals annually to nearly 1,000 food shelves, pantries and other partner programs in a large portion of Minnesota and western Wisconsin. We are one of the largest providers of emergency food to children in the state of Minnesota. Thirty-three percent of clients served by the agencies that receive our food are children—that’s more than 150,000 kids benefiting each year from Second Harvest Heartland’s array of shelf-stable and fresh food. Last year, more than 53 percent of that was fresh—produce, dairy, meat and bakery items.
Food + You
Our new Food + You school-based hunger relief pilot program—lead funding provided by Target—offers Family Food boxes and the services of a Nutrition Navigator at 15 high-need schools in Minneapolis and St. Paul, helping directly feed students and their families each month, and will also be catalyzing schools and families to access nutrition programs that can increase students’ food security over the long term.
Summer Food Service Program (SFSP)
This USDA program helps fill the missing meal gap during the summer months for kids who rely on free or reduced-price meals during the school year. Second Harvest Heartland supports SFSP by building community awareness to increase participation and by providing capacity building grants to meal site sponsors. Last year, SFSP provided more than 3 million meals to kids at 774 sites (schools, parks, community centers) throughout Minnesota during the summer months.
Our team of Supplemental Nutritional Assistant Program (SNAP, formerly Food Stamps) Outreach specialists and interns conduct outreach at community sites, where they screen households for SNAP eligibility and assist with the application process. Second Harvest Heartland assists the highest number of applications in Minnesota, supporting approximately 40 percent of the state’s SNAP Outreach. Last year, we served nearly 1,500 children from more than 430 households.
Child Hunger Advocacy
Second Harvest Heartland is committed to bringing a voice to those who struggle to make ends meet by providing illuminating data about hunger's impact and prevalence to the community and by fostering community conversations at events like our recent Child Hunger and Education Forum. We also share the story of child hunger and advocate with our legislative and congressional representatives on initiatives that help feed children and families—from Farm to Foodshelf* funding to our support for various child and family nutrition programs.
*Funding provided by the State of Minnesota.