-- Food shelf use has grown 45% in five years and 90% in 20 years.
-- Women, children, and people of color are disproportionately among the hungry.
-- Employment, disability, and retirement are the main types of income for those turning to food shelves and on-site meal programs.
-- Unaffordable housing is a major factor in Minnesota hunger.
-- Cutting back or skipping meals remains commonplace among those who use food assistance programs.
-- Use of food support (formerly food stamps) is decreasing among those using food shelves and on-site meal programs.
In 2005, Hunger Solutions Minnesota, a collaborative of statewide hunger relief organizations working to end hunger in Minnesota, commissioned Wilder Research to conduct a study of food shelf and on-site meal program participants. This is the fifth such study, completed every five years since 1985.
This summary presents highlights of a full report, The state of hunger in Minnesota, which describes food shelf and on-site meal program recipients and their households, examines factors contributing to the need for assistance, and makes recommendations for addressing these factors.
In Minnesota, approximately 305 food shelves and 52 on-site meal programs provide direct service to hungry families. Food shelves distribute non-prepared food and other grocery products to clients in need, who then prepare and use these items in their homes. On-site meal programs provide prepared meals served at the site to clients in need who do not reside on the premises. In 2004, individuals representing 576,025 households made about 1.7 million visits to food shelves and received 36.3 million pounds of food (figures for 2005 not yet available).
A current snapshot -- Although caution should be used in generalizing the results of the 2005 survey to all Minnesota food assistance recipients, it provides a meaningful snapshot of households that relied on food shelves and on-site meal programs in 2005.
Persistent hunger -- Even for those using food shelves and/or on-site meal programs, hunger continues.
-- In about three-fifths of the households, an adult is cutting the size of his/her meals due to lack of money for food; in about half of the households, an adult is skipping meals.
-- In about one-fourth of the households with children, a child is cutting the size of his/her meals, and about one-eighth have a child skipping meals.