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Second Harvest aims to cut Minnesota food shelf visits in half by 2030

Gov. Tim Walz spoke to hunger advocates and organizers at Second Harvest Heartland in Brooklyn Park on Jan. 29, 2024. Photo by Michelle Griffith/Minnesota Reformer.

By Michelle Griffith, Minnesota Reformer

Second Harvest Heartland on Monday announced a new initiative to reduce the number of food shelf visits by 50% by 2030.

The state’s largest hunger-fighting nonprofit announced its ambitious goal at its Brooklyn Park center in front of local food shelf advocates, lawmakers, Gov. Tim Walz and community organizers. Second Harvest launched its “Make Hunger History” campaign, which aims to raise about $150 million over the next six years to cut the number of food shelf visits in Minnesota. 

Last year, Minnesotans visited food banks a record 7.5 million times, and from 2022 to 2023, the number of food shelf visits increased by about 2 million. Second Harvest said donations through its new campaign will go toward increasing staffing and resources to meet the state’s growing needs.

The effort will also include a public policy element, with Second Harvest hoping to obviate the need for food shelf visits by supporting SNAP and building on the investments the Legislature made in 2023, including universal school meals, housing affordability and new state child tax credit. Walz said during the launch event that ensuring more Minnesotans are food secure will benefit the state’s economy, and it will bring the state closer to its goal of becoming the best state in which to raise a family.

“I’m proud, not just as governor, I’m proud as a Minnesotan,” Walz said. “Thank you for helping our families. Thank you for helping our neighbors, and thank you for once again showing the nation we are the North Star when it comes to treating folks right.”

Representatives from Target and the Cargill Foundation also attended the event, and the companies pledged to donate $10 million each for Second Harvest’s new initiative. 

Second Harvest said it also wants to gather more data to better understand who is utilizing food shelves and further advocate for issues such as affordable housing and accessible childcare — issues that also impact a person’s food security.

Allison O’Toole, Second Harvest CEO, said nonprofits, corporations and the government need to come together to address hunger in Minnesota. 

“Because if we’re not all fed, you can’t get much else right,” O’Toole said.

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