Feeding the state

A bill in the state Legislature looks to fund food shelves.

Many Minnesota families have been presented with the dilemma: rent or food? Lately, food, not to mention nutrition, has become secondary. Local food shelves report an overwhelming amount of people using their services that are, at best, adequate. With a dramatic 62 percent increase in food shelf usage in the past decade, state action is crucial. ThatâÄôs why we support legislation allocating $500,000 in 2010 and another $500,000 in 2011 to MinnesotaâÄôs 300 food shelves and various food stamp programs. Funding for these initiatives is a vital step to helping MinnesotaâÄôs low-income residents. One of the recipients of the proposed state funding will be Hunger Solutions, a network of Minnesota-based advocacy groups that work to provide nutritious food to those in need. Hunger Solutions supports food shelves in Minnesota and advocate public policy issues on their behalf. The proposed bill will turn to organizations like Hunger Solutions to carry out its programming initiatives and allocate funding. Minnesota will also receive up to $175 million in federal stimulus money for state food stamp programs, allowing the state bill to allocate funding to other food initiatives. One such initiative, aside from stocking food shelves, is food stamp outreach. By reaching out to local communities and informing residents of the qualifications for federal food assistance, Minnesotans will depend less on food shelves. Roughly one-third of Minnesotans eligible for food aid are actually enrolled in assistance programs. Public outreach will address this dilemma. In addition, the funding in the Minnesota bill will allow for increased staff and resources within the food shelves.