Because of continued partnership with people like you —agency partners, individual donors, volunteers and organizations— every day we are one step closer to achieving our mission of ending hunger.
Meet a few of our partners that are going above and beyond, playing a crucial role in the hunger relief community.
Champions of hope: ordinary people, extraordinary acts
Food as fuel
Deisy has been Manager at ECHO Food Shelf in Mankato since 2003. Though humble about her organization’s accomplishments and her role in helping make them happen, ECHO has served more than 50,000 individuals in their service area each of the last few years.
Being able to have food is a basic necessity. It’s not a want, it’s a need. I believe that when you have food, it allows you to go to school and think clearly. It allows you to go to work and get through the day. It’s one of those things that’s needed in order to do anything else.
Supporting seniors’ nutrition
Second Harvest Heartland piloted a Nutrition Education Program for low-income seniors enrolled in CSFP (Commodity Supplemental Food Program). We relied on volunteers like Wendy and Sara to provide on-site nutrition education presentations and food samples at select CSFP pickup sites.
I learned that it was also very important to [seniors] to have access to food that was nutritious and simple to prepare. I think that the Nutrition Pilot Program gave seniors some great tools to help make nutritious meals
We made connections with many of the seniors and looked forward to seeing them each month. These connections gave us the chance to follow-up with participants and to see if they tried some of the recipes and hear how they were incorporating the tips we shared
Help comes in all sizes
Throughout 2016, 7-year-old Victoria secretly saved loose change and bills to fill a bread loaf container with the intention of helping feed hungry people. For a 7-year-old, $31.27 takes a long time to save but can also go a long way – providing more than 90 meals!
We heard the statistic one in 10 people don’t have enough to eat. We talked about that at home and told Victoria to count 10 people in her classroom and imagine that one of those people doesn’t have food. I think that really stuck with her.
Sharing fresh produce
3M Gives improves lives and builds sustainable communities through social investments and thoughtful engagement of 3M employees worldwide. Second Harvest Heartland welcomes many groups of 3M volunteers each year as they share their skills and passions across our organization. In 2016, several groups stepped up to help out at free produce distributions in the Frogtown neighborhood of St. Paul.
We were looking for a different kind of volunteer opportunity, and the produce distribution volunteer sessions in Frogtown really spoke to us. Interacting and engaging with people on a one-on-one level while you are giving them fresh fruits and vegetables was both eye-opening and rewarding.
Growing food for hungry neighbors
From his family’s farm, Eric Nathe began partnering with Second Harvest Heartland to donate excess produce that would’ve otherwise gone to waste. Thanks in part to support through reimbursement from Farm to Foodshelf, Eric has been able to increase his produce donations over the past few years
I hate to see produce that is still good, still edible, go unharvested. As a grower that’s a tough thing because I know how many people are out there that don’t have the money to eat.
Helping one person at a time
Jan Schwanke runs a food shelf in southern Minnesota that reaches five rural communities serving 65-70 households each month. They recently expanded their food shelf to reach even more people with more food, including fresh produce. The food shelf also partners with the local Mayo Clinic for outreach and delivery to the aging rural population by providing low-income senior food boxes through CSFP.
I was asked one time, ‘why do you do what you do?’ It's because I am there to support the one person, they might not even need that much food, they might just need someone to talk to. If I can make them smile, that’s all that matters.
Overcoming barriers to food
In her first year at Pillsbury Elementary, Amanda McCastle has helped expand the Food + You program partnership beyond a food box distribution. The school now also operates a food shelf, is connected to fresh produce multiple times per week through a local co-op and much more.
When I first started I didn’t understand the stigma around it [Getting food help]. Second Harvest Heartland did a hunger exercise with us and really opened my eyes to what hunger looks like and it really opened my eyes to what people would typically think. It’s really amazing to be part of it
Empowering listeners to help
Dave Schrader and Tim Dennie of the talk radio show, Darkness on the Edge of Town, have hosted a Halloween fund drive on-air since 2007. Inspired to support Second Harvest Heartland by his favorite artist, Bruce Springsteen, Dave has committed to giving his listeners an easy way to make a local impact. Last year’s drive was the largest yet, raising more than $13,000 – nearly double from the year before.
It breaks my heart to see so many veterans, working families and other people struggling. They’re our friends and our families and neighbors. We know it makes an impact and right in our neighborhoods. The buying power you have makes it easy to get listeners to help.
Unparalleled volunteers of Second Harvest Heartland
The volunteers who pass through our doors all share a predisposed willingness to roll up their sleeves and help. While many volunteers sort and pack food for our hungry neighbors, our volunteers also bring expertise in photography, teaching, stewardship and more. Loyal, energizing and inspiring, our volunteers make our work possible.
"If you can help, help. It’s as simple as that," Nora said. “I think people get really busy and tangled up in their own lives and are running around here and there. It feels good to help."
"I enjoy knowing that I am helping clients get the help they deserve," said Kathy. “The process of looking for help can be overwhelming for people. It is a good feeling at the end of a shift that I have made a difference."
One partner’s creative campaign to end hunger
Creamy or crunchy? The peanut butter preference has been debated in many households
In many homes where money is tight, any variety is welcome. A single serving offers a healthy amount of protein, and unlike meat, it can be stored at room temperature. This is why peanut butter is a high-demand item at food shelves across Minnesota and western Wisconsin.
Despite the demand, Second Harvest Heartland rarely receives large-scale donations of peanut butter because there isn’t a production facility in our area.
UnitedHealthcare’s “Do Good. Live Well” employee Peanut Butter Drive, offers a creative, grassroots solution. As part of the drive, employees take part in a friendly competition to generate more donations for their preferred type: creamy or crunchy.
Part of the mission of our “Do Good. Live Well” volunteer initiative is to decrease hunger, and the peanut butter drive is a fun way for our employees to make an immediate and practical impact on our hungry neighbors. Since 2012, our employees have donated more than 10,000 pounds of peanut butter, which makes this one of our most popular and successful drives every year!
Their week-long drive in 2016 generated a whopping 2,346 pounds of peanut butter and $447.00 in contributions. Employees contributed jars of peanut butter they purchased themselves, and for convenience, a food service partner with the company offered additional jars for sale on-site. Additionally, United Health Foundation offered a matching fund to complement employee contributions.
The creativity of the UnitedHealthcare’s employee Peanut Butter Drive offers inspiration to organizations of any size looking to take part in local hunger relief.