The Hormel Hunger Survey offered a look at the perception of hunger in Minnesota and America. It found 63 percent of Minnesota residents surveyed believe hunger is increasing and a larger percentage of Minnesotans feel the U.S. is failing at preventing hunger.
R. Jane Brown, the Executive Director of Second Harvest Heartland, the largest hunger-relief organization in the upper midwest says the survey shows hunger is an important issue here. She says the Minnesota Hunger Summit is a chance for lawmakers, religious leaders and food bank workers to strategize.
"What we have figured out is that with not quite doubling the amount of food that's in the emergency food system, we really can end hunger. And by that we mean provide access to food for every one who needs it," she says.
Second Harvest Heartland currently distributes more than 30-million pounds of donated food. Brown says more donations are needed and more needs to be done to increase food distribution.
"Statewide we have about 1200 agencies. It maybe needs to be closer to 2,000," she says.
As important as they may be to feeding the people, food shelves may not be the final answer to ending hunger. Dr. Diana Cutts, a pediatrician at the Hennepin County Medical Center in Minneapolis says she sees examples of what happens to children when they go hungry every day. Under-nourished children don't perform well in school and often suffer from depression, she says. Dr. Cutts hopes the hunger summit will produce some new ideas beyond relying on food shelves.
"As I see it, in the big picture, it's a pretty limited band-aid thing. We need to think more system-wide on how do we really prevent hunger," she says.
Ed Rowley, the Operations Director at the Channel One Food Bank in Rochester, has been working to end hunger since 1988. He says hunger is a daily obstacle for many people.
"If you think about someone being hungry and if that's the first thing, then nothing else enters their life until they get rid of that hunger. That's something that I always need to keep in mind because hunger can get in the way of a lot of good things," he says.
According to the hunger survey, 66 percent of Minnesota residents surveyed felt the government should make hunger a higher priority for funding--and the same percentage do not believe that money alone will solve the hunger problem in the U.S.
The Hormel Hunger Survey was done via the Internet in August and questioned 800 people in the U.S. plus 200 in Minnesota and 131 managers at Fortune 2000 companies. It has an overall margin of error of plus of minus 3.5 percent, according to the Hormel Hunger Survey.
In December 2005, a survey from Second Harvest America found nearly 380,000 people in Minnesota relied on food shelves and soup kitchens for their meals.