Hungry Minnesotans can get help
By Commissioner Jodi Harpstead
Minnesota Department of Human Services
Everyone needs help sometimes. That is especially true for Minnesotans who have lost their jobs or have been hit hard by COVID-19, especially those in Black, Asian, Latino, Native American and immigrant communities.
As I have listened to community members across the state, one of the pressing concerns I’ve heard is that Minnesotans are struggling to put food on their tables The onset of COVID-19 has only heightened that need. In June, more than 426,000 Minnesotans accessed the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program — an increase of 11 percent over this same time last year — and more than 345,000 Minnesotans visited food shelves — an increase of 20 percent over last year at this time.
With the end of the federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation funds to help pay for food, we expect hunger to surge. At the Minnesota Department of Human Services, we’re working alongside our partners in counties, tribes, community and nonprofit organizations to help meet the needs of people across the state who may be struggling to put food on the table for their families.
Help is available
Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program: With SNAP, Minnesotans who meet income eligibility guidelines can get help to pay for groceries. Administered by counties and tribes, SNAP is an important supplement to families’ food budgets. They can apply online via https://applymn.dhs.mn.gov, and now use their benefits to purchase food online through Walmart and Amazon.
Minnesota Family Investment Program: MFIP is a resource for families with children. Based on income eligibility guidelines, MFIP can include SNAP benefits in addition to cash benefits for living expenses and additional food. Minnesotans can apply for both SNAP and MFIP via https://applymn.dhs.mn.gov, and will need to complete an interview in person or over the phone with their county or tribe. Minnesotans who already receive food and cash assistance benefits must reapply annually. For 20,000 Minnesotans who recently received a notice in the mail, that renewal is due by Aug. 31 for September benefits.
Minnesota food shelves: Minnesotans with low incomes can access free food — including some items that meet specific cultural diets — and other household items at food shelves in their communities. The Department of Human Services supports Minnesota’s seven regional food banks and more than 300 food shelves, all of which serve people regardless of their immigration status. Accessing food shelves does not count as public assistance under the federal Public Charge Rule.
Resources are available
Several resources are available to help individuals and families.
• For assistance with food resourcestact Hunger Solutions Minnesota at www.hungersolutions.org/ or 1-888-711-1151.
• For help with SNAP, MFIP, and other programs and services: Visit the department’s webpage, https://mn.gov/dhs/, and contact counties or tribes via the County and Tribal Information Directory, https://edocs.dhs.state.mn.us/lfserver/Public/DHS-0005-ENG
•For food resources and support: Visit the department’s “COVID-19 emergency food support” webpage, https://mn.gov/dhs/food-emergency/.
• For the latest information on SNAP: Visit the “Changes and updates to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program” page, https://mn.gov/dhs/snap-changes/, on the Department of Human Services website.
Our commitment to make sure no Minnesotans are hungry
Since COVID-19 hit, the Department of Human Services has distributed more than $9 million in state and federal emergency food support to food shelves, food banks, tribal nations and others. We offered Emergency SNAP benefits to increase the amount of money many SNAP participants received, and we processed thousands of Pandemic-EBT applications for food benefits for children who would typically receive free or reduced-price school meals.
Nothing is more essential to overall health and well-being than access to healthy food, and, at the department, we’re committed to feeding communities and improving food access for all. However, we need your support in helping your neighbors’ access these programs. Tell a friend. Drive someone to a food shelf. Pick up groceries for your neighbor. Contact your federal representatives to tell them how we can improve SNAP. Volunteer or donate to a local food shelf. And keep sharing your ideas with us about how we can do better.
Everyone needs a little help sometimes. That is why we are here.
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