Appetites: End of COVID-era nutrition assistance increases food shelf need

A food shelf with many shelves with no food on them.
The Channel One Food Shelf and Food Bank in Rochester, Minn.
Ken Klotzbach for MPR News

As COVID-era nutrition assistance ends on Saturday, some Minnesotans will be turning back to food shelves as they experience inflation and hunger.

There is a little over a week to left to participate in the Minnesota March FoodShare campaign, it runs through April and is an annual challenge to stock the state’s 300 food shelves.

Since COVID began, food shelves have seen about a 69 percent increase, according to Michelle Ness, the executive director of PRISM in Golden Valley, one of the nonprofits participating in the FoodShare campaign.

About 20 percent of visitors each month are first-time food shelf users.

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Donations from grocery stores has decreased, so food shelves are spending more of their internal money during rising inflation to stock their facilities.

FoodShare has greater purchasing power so they can get items through local food banks like Second Harvest Heartland at half the price. Money donations are always appreciated, but if you would like to give items, they’re looking for high protein items like canned tuna and chicken, peanut butter, vegetable oil, sugar, flour, spaghetti and sauce.

While some may think that old can of beans in the back of your cupboard is what they’re looking for, you would be wrong.

Ness suggests giving to your local food shelf. Locations can be explored here.