ST. PAUL, Minn. (FOX 9) - A new initiative by a Minnesota non-profit organization hopes to cut those needing assistance from food shelves in half in the next six years.
The Make Hunger History initiative, announced by Second Harvest Heartland on Monday, will hope to, "unite communities, policymakers, and business leaders" in an effort reduce hunger by increasing access to emergency food "through policy and partnerships."
Minnesotans visited food shelves a record 7.5 million times in 2023, up from 5 million in 2022 – a number that was nearly 2 million more than the year before.
"Let’s dig in together, and make hunger history in Minnesota," said Allison O’Toole, CEO of Second Harvest Heartland, at a press event announcing the initiative on Monday. "If we’re not all fed, we can’t get much else right."
Among the goals to increase partnerships and funding for the new initiative announced, Second Harvest Heartland says its new Care Center team will, "proactively work with neighbors to find grocery help and connect them with other economic and social services."
Its network will plan to, "utilize mobile distributions and community identified pick-up sites, increase delivery efficiencies and keep food local whenever possible."
Its goals will also be to, "increase economic stability" for people by "policy wins" that include increasing access to affordable housing, transportation and healthcare.
According to the announcement, Second Harvest Heartland and its partners intend to track progress toward its goal by publicly using, "new data sets and metrics that allow the food bank to track food insecurity with more accuracy and urgency."
One year from now, Second Harvest Heartland intends to release a "Make Hunger History" scorecard to track its progress, O’Toole said.
Through its lobbying efforts so far, Cargill and Target have each pledged $10 million in support of the multi-year plan.
"If we want children to learn, they need to have full bellies," Governor Tim Walz said at the event Monday. "We need to ensure that families are secure in their food and housing."
Operating more than 1,000 food shelves and hunger-relief programs in Minnesota and western Wisconsin, Second Harvest Heartland says it provided 128 million meals last year. It’s also a member of the Feeding America network of food banks utilized throughout the country.
According to its site, "through partnerships, expertise, grant making and innovation," its programs "help address immediate hunger needs and systemic food insecurity across the community."