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.

lunch tray

Our Food Bank

Through its core business, Second Harvest Heartland distributes more than 81 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 57.5% of that was fresh—produce, dairy, meat and bakery items.

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Food + You

Child Hunger Initiative | Young boy eating a mealOur new Food + You school-based hunger relief pilot program offers Family Food boxes and the services of a Nutrition Navigator at 17 high-need schools in the Minneapolis and St. Paul metro area, 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.

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Summer Food Service Program (SFSP)

More than 40 percent of K-12 kids in Minnesota rely on free/reduced price meal programs during the school year, leaving these children at risk of hunger over the summer break. SFSP, a USDA program operated by the Minnesota Department of Education, provides free meals to kids 18 and under to fill this gap. In 2017, Second Harvest Heartland provided 16 grants to SFSP sponsors, funding 204 meal sites within our service area.

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SNAP Outreach

Child Hunger Initiative | Young girl eating with spoonSNAP is a dramatically underutilized and already funded source of food assistance that goes unclaimed each year because people are unaware of their eligibility and face barriers to participation such as language and transportation. In fiscal year 2017, our SNAP outreach specialists assisted 3,898 households with SNAP applications and re-certifications. This added nearly 3 million meals for families.  

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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.

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