The Minnesota Department of Human Services provides Minnesotans with a variety of services intended to help people live as independently as possible.
This summer, the Minnesota Department of Human Services is leading four initiatives to help put healthy food on low-income Minnesotans’ tables.
Funding for the projects came from a $1.2 million federal bonus for Minnesota’s work to increase Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) use among eligible residents. Minnesota counties, which administer the federally-funded program, are sharing 75 percent of the award to address costs associated with rising SNAP caseloads. DHS is using its 25 percent to further its work to increase access to healthy food through the following projects.
Four food banks are distributing backpacks filled with healthy food and nutritional information to children age 18 and younger in summer school, other programs and at food shelves in June, July and August. Using $101,000 in USDA bonus funds, the initiative will fill backpacks approximately 27,000 times this summer. Over 2,500 children will receive nutritious food about once a week. More information is in news release about the Summer Backpack Program.
When SNAP recipients purchase $5 or more in fresh fruits and vegetables with their Electronic Benefit Transfer card at one of three participating stores June 15 to Sept. 30, they will receive a $5 coupon toward their next purchase of fresh produce at the store. With $150,000 in bonus funds, approximately 30,000 coupons will be delivered to SNAP recipients. Participating stores will also offer SNAP-Education, teaching customers how to use local produce and build skills to improve eating habits. More information is in a news release about the SNAP+ pilot program.
Through a partnership with Neighborhood House, DHS is raising awareness about SNAP in the low-participating Latino community. With a $20,000 grant, Neighborhood House has hired a Spanish-speaking family worker capable of enrolling an additional 100 families in St. Paul into SNAP and other federal food support programs this year. Neighborhood House also received a grant from Hunger-Free Minnesota to hire a full-time family worker focusing on reaching the Hmong community. More information is in a news release about increased outreach efforts.
With a $15,000 grant, the Emergency Foodshelf Network is increasing the number of sites it reaches through its Mobile Foodshelf. The Mobile Foodshelf operates a monthly distribution to 17 low-income housing complexes in Hennepin and Ramsey counties, providing over 750 pounds of food per site per month, and increased resources and referrals to residents on state and federal food programs, including SNAP. With the additional funds from DHS, the foodshelf will add nine sites to its distribution area and issue an additional 73,000 pounds of food to recipients. More information is in a news release about the Mobile Foodshelf.