Minnesota Public Radio (MPR) is the lead media sponsor of Hunger-Free Minnesota. MPR is shining a light on the issue of hunger statewide via news stories that feature the outstanding work of local hunger-relief organizations and highlighting the issues of hungry people in need.
CHASKA, Minn. — Home-delivered meal programs in Minnesota have managed to weather the hit they took in the across-the-board federal budget cuts earlier this year — at least for now.
Minnesota gets $2.8 million from the federal government each year for a number of organizations that deliver meals to seniors in their homes. Because of the sequester, that money was cut by $155,000 — about 5 percent.
Before the sequester took effect in March, critics warned the cuts could force some seniors off the program. Hunger advocates, politicians, and the White House expressed concern that home-delivered meals would have to be scaled back.
But no Minnesota seniors have been forced off of the program, nor have any groups reduced the number of meals they provide. That's because the Area Agencies on Aging that distribute the money have been able to tap reserves — or make other adjustments — to fill the gap.
"We've been very fortunate. We have not as yet experienced any cuts," said Jean Wood, executive director of the Minnesota Board on ...Continue Reading
MINNEAPOLIS — For decades, Minnesota food shelves focused on providing enough food to people in need.
But these days, food shelf directors are aware that some of their clients are obese or have diseases related to their diet. With that in mind, they increasingly focus on providing not just enough calories but the right kind of calories.
The need is clear at Keystone Community Services, which runs three foods shelves in Ramsey County. In 2011, the organization conducted a survey of its clients and the results startled Christine Pulver, its director of basic needs.
"Our clients have twice the national average incidence of diabetes," she said. "They also show high blood pressure rates, cardiac issues. Some of those issues are diet related."
Pulver is among those who recognize that food shelves can play a critical role in improving their clients' health. She wants to offer more produce, and fewer pastries — but that's not as easy as it sounds. Healthier food is expensive.
Last summer, Pulver reduced the amount of food she gives...Continue Reading
ST. PAUL, Minn. — A Shakopee man has been charged in federal court with one felony count of food stamp fraud.
According to the charging document, Chin Son Kim, 47, fraudulently used food stamps during the period of November, 2010 through July, 2012.
The document lays out a complicated scheme in which Kim allegedly waited outside a charity in St. Paul and other locations, looking for food stamp recipients he could recruit to provide him with EBT cards, the plastic cards that carry food stamp benefits. After collecting a card, Kim would go to a cooperating local market.
There, the grocer would swipe the card through a food stamp reader, as if a legitimate transaction had occurred. However, the grocer would provide Kim with cash or store credit. It is illegal to exchange food stamps for cash or ineligible merchandise.
Afterwards, Kim would allegedly return the card to its rightful owner, providing that person with a portion of the cash.
According to an earlier search warrant affidavit, Kim sought the EBT cards outside homeless shelters, including the Dorothy Day Center in St. Paul.
The U.S. Attorney's Office says Kim's actions cost the food stamp program $29,816. If convicted, Kim faces a potential maximum penalty of five years in federal prison.
Twin Cities attorney Joe Friedberg, who is representing...Continue Reading
ST. PAUL, Minn. — The unseasonably cold and snowy weather is delaying the opening of the St. Paul Farmers' Market.
The market was scheduled for a spring opening this Saturday, but will instead open Saturday, May 4.
Manager Jack Gerten said growers need warm temperatures in order to display their products. Even though the forecast calls for a warmer weekend, market managers decided to play it safe.
"Normally, we have to have the temperature above freezing, into the 40s, before we can set up. Otherwise it's just too cold and the products will freeze," Gerten said.
"What looks like warm weather now, if we get 6-8 inches of snow, it might not disappear as quick," Gerten said.
He said the market square still has snow piled up to about three feet in the corners from the last storm.
"If we add a few more inches, we'll still have snow on the market come this weekend," Gerten said.
The Minneapolis Farmers' Market will open this Saturday on North Lyndale as planned, managers say. They expect about 30 growers to be there.
Both the Minneapolis Farmers' Market on North Lyndale and the downtown St. Paul Farmers' Market will accept food stamps, officially called the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. A growing number of Minnesota farmers' markets accept food stamp benefits.