- Politics and Social Issues
Minnesota Food Helpline
Helping To Solve Hunger Issues in Minnesota
Launched in June 2009 by Hunger Solutions Minnesota (HSM), the Minnesota Food Helpline (1-888-711-1151) provides a vital service to Minnesotans at risk for hunger. The multilingual staff will help enroll low-income Minnesotans in the Food Support/SNAP (Food Stamps) program and help callers find emergency food assistance in their area.
No one in Minnesota should go hungry. If you or your family are having difficulty making ends meet, please call the helpline at 1-888-711-1151 today!
Hunger On The Rise in Minnesota & U.S.
The current economic condition has increased the need for food assistance. Many Minnesotans have less income to spend on food due to rising unemployment rates, health care costs, and a generally deepening recession. Unfortunately without food assistance, families and senior citizens cut back on meals or the quality of the food they do eat.
Based on current statistics, HSM knows that hunger is on the rise in Minnesota. In 2009, visits to the food shelves in the Twin Cities metro area have increased 42% over last year. And statewide, food shelves have reported an average increase of 31%. The demand on local food shelves is overwhelming so HSM and its partner food shelves are recommending that Minnesotans also look into public program benefits. The Minnesota Food Helpline was created to help hungry families and seniors determine whether or not they might qualify for public program benefits. One of the main missions of the helpline is to reach the Minnesotans who may not realize they are eligible, are reluctant to participate, or experience difficulties during the application process.
One example of public benefits that may be available to families is the Food Support Program (recently renamed the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program or SNAP in Minnesota). This program provides low income families at risk for hunger with more choices, less stigma, self sufficiency and more consumer power. And due to an increase in food support benefits from federal stimulus money, the average benefit for Minnesotan families has increased by 13.5% since April 1st meaning that the average monthly benefit for a qualifying household is $195.58.
As of February 2009, statistic show that the numbers of Minnesotans enrolled in the Food Support Program is up 12.2% over last year. However, the state estimates that only 68% of those eligible for Food Support are participating in the program. The most overlooked group is Seniors with an estimated 80% of eligible seniors not enrolling due to a variety of barriers and misconceptions about eligibility. As mentioned previously, one major goal of the Minnesota Food Helpline is to reach this population that is eligible for benefits.
If you have a business that would like to support hunger relief in Minnesota, please contact your local food pantry or one of the Minnesota Hunger Resources below. Companies like AA Gift Baskets are proud supports of the CAER food shelf in Elk River and many large companies like Target support the local food shelves throughout the state.
Minnesota Helpline Program Highlights
According to the HSM website, the newly launched Minnesota Helpline has the following items on their game plan for assisting callers.
Food Support Eligibility Screening
Callers will be screened for eligibility for the Food Support program using the online Bridge to Benefits tool developed by Children's Defense Fund - Minnesota.
Food Support Application Assistance
A wide variety of questions regarding the Food Support application will be answered as well as ensuring callers know the appropriate documentation to provide at their interview.
The helpline will be answered Monday through Friday during regular business hours (8:30 AM - 4:30 PM). The goal is to eventually expand the hours of the helpline to include evening and weekend hours. After-hours callers will be able to leave a voice mail message that will be returned the following business day.
A member of the HSM staff is fluent in Spanish and has worked as an interpreter and Spanish teacher in the past. For other language speakers, we will work with a translation service over the phone.
We will begin with one volunteer working one day per week and as the call volume increases, we will add more volunteers.
Call reports and analysis will be done on a monthly basis. The helpline's hours, staffing, and marketing will also be areas that will be evaluated to ensure that we are meeting the needs of those seeking help to feed their families.
June 2009 Program Analysis
The HelpLine received calls from 39 different counties in the first month of operation. Sixty-six percent of those callers were screened for eligibility for the food support program.
77% were found to be likely eligible for the food support program.
22% of our calls have come from seniors.
46% of callers have children.
85% of callers received referrals to other food programs such as WIC, food shelves, meal programs, and Fare for All.
54% of callers asked questions about eligibility requirements.
44% asked for general information about the program.
Books & Movies about Hunger in America
Hungry in Minnesota?
Call the Minnesota Food Helpline at 1-888-711-1151 Today!
Minnesota Hunger Resources
If you are in need of assistance, please call the Minnesota Food Helpline at 1-888-711-1151 or visit their website for more information. Here are some additional online resources for both those that need help and those individuals that would like to help either through financial contributions or by volunteering. If we join together, we can end hunger in America!
- Hunger Solutions Minnesota
A comprehensive hunger relief organization that works to end hunger in Minnesota. We take action to assure food security for all Minnesotans by supporting agencies that provide food to those in need, advancing sound public policy, and guiding grassro
- Minnesota Hunger Partners
Lists all kinds of Minnesota hunger relief resources.
- Emergency Food Shelf Network
The mission of the Emergency Foodshelf Network is to provide high quality food and essential support services to hunger relief programs in Minnesota communities.
- Second Harvest Heartland
The Upper Midwest's largest hunger-relief organization, striving to end hunger through community partnerships. We form the backbone of organizations working together to efficiently alleviate hunger in 59 counties throughout Minnesota and Western Wisc
- Minnesota Gift Basket Delivery
Directory that enables you to find gift baskets for hand-delivery in Minnesota. They contribute part of their earnings to local Minnesota food charities.