Second Harvest Heartland Employees at Hunger Day on the Hill

Preparing For Hunger Day on the Hill

On the morning of Wednesday, March 13, just steps from the Minnesota State Capitol, the Christ Lutheran Church is bustling. Almost 200 hunger fighters, including 60 Second Harvest Heartland staff members and volunteers have gathered for Hunger Day on the Hill, a day for advocates to meet with their elected representatives and ask them to champion investments in the hunger relief network and policies to both reduce and prevent hunger.

The energy in the registration line is high as advocates from across Minnesota prepare for a day of meeting with their legislators, obtaining folders filled with various one-pagers that include talking points about legislation important to increasing access to food and addressing the root causes of hunger. These include bills such as HF 4108/SF 4146, which proposes increasing the minimum SNAP benefit for seniors to $50, as well as HF 3639/SF 3969, a bill authorizing the state to seek an 1115 Waiver for Nutrition Supports, the first step in the process in providing additional reimbursable services through Medicaid, including nutrition counseling and education on healthy meal preparation, medically-tailored meals, home-delivered meals, and stocking pantries.

"Hunger in Minnesota is real," says Sophia Lenarz Coy, Executive Director of Hunger Solutions and The Food Group. "And we think food is a right. And we have enough resources to solve it."

Supporters pictured inside capital for Hunger Day on the Hill

Advocates gathered together in small groups to prepare to talk with their legislators about hunger relief policies

Christ Lutheran Church is a short walk from the Minnesota State Capitol, and thus serves as a perfect place for people to convene before heading over to the Capitol to meet with their representatives. Advocates sorted themselves into groups based on where they live and who represents them, providing an opportunity to not only talk about important hunger relief issues, but also to meet their neighbors.

"Advocacy might sound kind of scary, but when you think about what you can do to support organizations and support anti-hunger efforts, advocacy is one of the best things that you can do," says Sophie Wallerstedt, Public Affairs Manager of Second Harvest Heartland. "Being able to advocate for something you really care about to your elective officials and using your voice to do that is just a really awesome opportunity to level up your support for an organization."

Almost 200 hunger relief advocates gathered to listen to speeches from policy makers and fellow advocates

Almost 200 hunger relief advocates gathered to listen to speeches from policy makers and fellow advocates

Addressing the largest turnout in Hunger Day on the Hill history were Minnesota State Representative Heather Keeler, and Minnesota State Senator Erin Maye Quade, who urged constituents to stay in contact with their legislators about things that are important to them.

"It's not just today on the hill," says Rep. Heather Keeler. "It's the constant relationship that you have to have.”

"It’s about going outside your comfort zones and building really strong relationships with your legislators by telling a story that's important to you."

Sen. Erin Maye Quade echoed these sentiments and put emphasis on the fact that we need policy work to address hunger’s root causes. "If we’re not talking about the structural issues that cause hunger, we’re not actually solving the problem."

In the spirit of Rep. Heather Keeler’s words, Second Harvest Heartland encourages hunger-fighting advocates to foster that constant relationship with their legislators and contact their representatives in Saint Paul. Stay up to date with Second Harvest Heartland's policy by signing up for alerts from our Advocacy Action Center, and we hope that you will consider joining all of us for Hunger Day on the Hill in 2025.