Neighbors in need

Doing more for our hungry neighbors

For more than 30 years, Second Harvest Heartland and our partners have been fighting hunger in Minnesota and western Wisconsin by making food accessible to those who need it most.


The faces of hunger

Whether it’s the mother who goes to bed without eating to provide a meal for her kids, veterans reintegrating into society, senior citizens trying to keep up with rising expenses and fixed incomes or students trying to focus on school, no one is immune to hunger and every story is unique.

Hear some of the real stories of Minnesotans you helped last year.



On any day of the week, Brenda’s household is bustling with activity. There are people coming and going from work, school and Boy Scouts, all at different times of day. This might sound familiar to a young family, but Brenda’s situation is a little different. Brenda is 77 years old. She and her husband are the primary caretakers for their grandsons, alongside their son who works a night shift six days a week.

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With more mouths to feed, Brenda did what any mother and grandmother would do, after only five years of retirement, she went back to work. Even with a little extra income, it is still difficult to afford the good food that she needs for her family.

"We’d be eating less and cheaper stuff if I didn’t have the food shelf, it’s been a blessing."

– Brenda



Yolawnda was driven to be a good provider for her family. As a single mother, she joined the military and became a diesel mechanic. The military helped put her and her family on a path to stability. Once a homeless mother, Yolawnda now owns a home but was still struggling to make ends meet financially. “There are times I will go without eating to ensure my kids have enough to eat,” Yolawnda said. "That's what a mom does."

"To me food is love, and honestly without programs that bring fresh fruits and vegetables, I don’t think my kids would be getting half the nutrition they should be."
– Yolawnda


It’s a bright sunny day, Ricky is spending his afternoon arranging fresh strawberries as he and other volunteers prepare to distribute fresh fruits and vegetables to some of his neighbors in North Minneapolis.

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Like most of our volunteers, Ricky enjoys giving back to his community, but these distributions are important to him for another reason. Ricky deals with hunger himself, an experience he brings to every volunteer shift. He knows the challenge of affording consistent and healthy meals when his finances are strained. As a diabetic, healthy food resources have become more and more important for him to help effectively manage his disease.

“Peppers and [other produce] are too expensive,” he said. "And we really need it. Food prices are sky-high around here.”

There is enough food to go around. Produce distributions and food shelves assist Ricky in managing his disease. Pausing while telling us his story, Ricky said sincerely, “It really helps me.”



When 38-year-old Jennifer was diagnosed with cancer, she became unable to work. She and her boyfriend found themselves struggling to make ends meet, unexpectedly going from two sources of income to one.

“The whole plan we had was gone in the snap of a finger. It was a wake-up call to life in general, to realize how quickly something so good can go so quickly.”
When Jennifer reached out to us, she was looking for resources for finding food shelves near her home. “It’s a struggle to keep food in my house. "What am I supposed to do?” Jennifer said. “I can’t afford to go to the grocery stores for the food I want or need. Food shelves have been helpful. I’m grateful for the food shelves.”

Food shelves and other meal programs are designed to support people like Jennifer with food help so there’s one less thing to worry about when life gets complicated. The day we talked to Jennifer, she had just accepted a new job and she said her life feels like it’s starting to move forward again.

Impact by the numbers