Hunger in Our Midst
By Clare Gravon, JFCS Food Security Program Coordinator
Sometimes a basic need such as having enough food to eat is the most pressing concern of the people we serve at Jewish Family and Children’s Service of Minneapolis (JFCS). One in 10 Minnesotans is food insecure on a regular basis, which means they lack consistent access to adequate food. And contrary to persistent stereotypes, we may not recognize the neighbor who is food insecure. Often it is a senior too proud to ask for help or a working family with children having trouble making ends meet.
Ten percent of seniors in Minnesota report being threatened by hunger. In the past five years, the number of food shelf visits by seniors rose almost 24 percent. That increase is expected to continue as more Baby Boomers turn 60.
Minnesota working families with children are too often squeezed by low income and high expenses. Sixty-seven percent (67%) of households with children who receive SNAP (food stamps) have earnings from working.
At JFCS, we understand the importance of meeting basic needs. In 2016, with support from MAZON: A Jewish Response to Hunger, JFCS was able to do outreach to over 3,000 low-income seniors in the Twin Cities, screening them for SNAP eligibility and helping them with the application process. Seniors are least likely to know that there is help available for them or how to access it.
For example, Helen lived in a HUD-subsidized, senior independent living apartment complex. As a diabetic with multiple health issues, Helen struggled with out-of-pocket medical expenses – a classic case of having to choose between medical supplies and buying food. After applying for SNAP, Helen was able to receive food assistance and was approved for financial assistance for her medical expenses as well. Both of these benefits made a tremendous impact on her sense of economic security and physical well-being.
At the same time, JFCS is proud to continue our synergistic partnership with PRISM, a non-profit in Golden Valley, which operates a food shelf and thrift store. Over 650 families visit PRISM’s food shelf every month. Together, JFCS and PRISM provide holistic support and solutions to help individuals and families meet basic needs in times of financial crisis.
March has become a critical month for PRISM and other local food shelves. In 1982, Minnesota FoodShare, a major program of the Greater Minneapolis Council of Churches (GMCC) was created to restock food shelves in the seven-county Twin Cities Metropolitan Area. Today, the Minnesota FoodShare March Campaign brings together various Minnesota organizations, businesses and places of worship to help keep 300 food shelves statewide stocked throughout the year. The March Campaign is the largest grassroots food and fund drive in the state.
If you would like to participate in the Minnesota FoodShare March Campaign by donating food and hygiene items to PRISM, please drop off your donations now through March 31:
• Location: 730 Florida Ave. S, Golden Valley
• Food Shelf Hours: Monday 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.; Tuesday and Wednesday 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.; Thursday 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.