In a past Compass Program, we had community experts to talk about food insecurity in Minnesota. Our Compass Programs cover topics like food insecurity that impact the residents of our nine northern suburbs.
We had on Christine Weber the Program Manager at Every Meal, Theresa McCormick the Director of Programs and Healthcare Partnerships at Second Harvest Heartland and Kris Rossow Roseville Area Senior Program Coordinator at Meals on Wheels.
Here are my top ten takeaways from the show.
1. “The USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) defines food insecurity as a lack of consistent access to enough food for an active and healthy life,” said Weber
Not many people know the actual definition of food insecurity, so it’s important to understand what exactly it is since it’s so prevalent in the community.
2. “One in nine Minnesotans, including one in six kids, is living with hunger right now,” said McCormick.
Food insecurity is widespread throughout the state and even in the northern suburbs.
3. “Roseville Meals on Wheels saw an increase of 29% and they served over 5,500 more meals in 2020 than they did in 2019,” said Rossow.
All food nonprofits saw an increase in need last year. Many seniors used Meals on Wheels during stay-at-home orders.
4. “Every meal is currently distributing roughly 8,000 meal bags throughout the community each and every week, which is the equivalent of about 30,000 meals,” said Weber.
With school closures around the state, there were students who were going hungry. For many students, their meals at school were the only wholesome and nutritious meal they received.
5. “Second Harvest Heartland has delivered 25% more food to our food shelf partners and we’ve seen a 60% increase in people seeking help since March,” said McCormick.
There are a number of reasons people were seeking out food shelves more last year. Food shelves like Second Harvest are working hard to quickly get food in the hands of those who need it.
6. “We serve anywhere from 80 to 150 meals a day,” said Rossow.
Everyday, Meals on Wheels volunteers strive to deliver food to seniors who would otherwise go hungry on their own.
7. “Hunger causes families to have increased stress, anxiety, worry that they might run out of food before being able to buy more,” said Weber.
Food insecurity is a multifaceted issue that has both long and short term effects on families who experience it.
8. “Students are able to better learn, they have few absences, they have improved behaviors, such as better concentration in the classroom. They have more positive interaction with their peers, and improved activity levels when they have consistent access to nutritious foods,” said Weber.
It’s important for students to be food secure to perform successfully in the classroom. This translates into their performance in the workplace as they grow up.
9. “40% of seniors who are food insecure are more likely to have congestive heart failure,” said Rossow.
Food insecurity in seniors can lead to diseases like diabetes. In order to live a; long and healthy life, one must have access to constant nutritious food.
10. “The degree of food insecurity is increasing at an equal rate all across our state right now,” said McCormick.
Food insecurity is not slowing down despite what you may think. Reach out to any of these organizations if you’re interested in volunteering or donating to any of them.