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Second Harvest Heartland hosting 24-hour fundraiser to fight food insecurity

After record year for food shelf visits, Second Harvest Heartland is hoping to fight food insecurity
After record year for food shelf visits, Second Harvest Heartland is hoping to fight food insecurity 03:23

MINNEAPOLIS — More and more Minnesotans need help putting food on the table.

The nation's third-largest food bank is using a 24-hour fundraiser to fight food insecurity.

"Borderline tough because I'm on disability and my income is limited every month," explained Stephen, a food shelf user.

Stephen finds it difficult to have enough to pay for basic necessities.         

He has been visiting the food shelf at Community Emergency Service in the Phillips neighborhood of Minneapolis for two years now.

"We have more and more people coming every single day. A lot of people that never accessed food shelves before are now coming in," said Jamie Dolynchuk, President of Community Emergency Service.

RELATED: Minnesota food shelves ask state for assistance amid record demand

Minnesotans made 7.5 million food shelf visits in 2023 — 2 million more than the old record, set a year earlier.

Second Harvest Heartland is trying to keep up with demand at Community Emergency Service and other food shelves across Minnesota and western Wisconsin. 

"It is super critical for Second Harvest Heartland's ability to fund meals over the next handful of months," said Megan Muske, Chief Development Officer at Second Harvest Heartland.

The organization's goal is to raise enough money to fund one million meals before midnight. 

"Everyone is working hard to be super innovative and stretch the dollars that we have to feed as many people as possible," said Muske.

Half a million pounds of food leave the Second Harvest Heartland warehouse each day. A year ago, that number was 375,000 — a 33% increase with no end in sight. That's why the organization hopes donors spring into action.

 "Unfortunately, it's not getting better and because of the economy and inflation and what families are dealing with, that's why we need to fund these million meals today," said Muske.

A major effort is to put food on the shelves for our neighbors to shop for themselves and their families.

"We never have enough food. We're constantly looking for donations. We will probably turn away about 50% of the people that show up at the food shelf still," said Dolynchuk.

READ MORE: Shiloh Temple food shelf receives huge donations from Human Services, Cargill Foundation 

Second Harvest Heartland's volunteer center in Brooklyn Park is as busy as the food shelves they're working to stock. 

To stay that way, they need volunteers and financial support to help the hundreds of partners they collaborate with to fight food insecurity — partners like Community Emergency Service.

"Please, from the bottom of my heart. Please help us," said Dolynchuk.

Stephen is hopeful and thankful. He says Minnesotans care deeply about each other and step up in times of need.

"It's a great feeling to know that people do still care," he said.

Thanks to a match from corporate donors, all money raised by Second Harvest Heartland before midnight will be doubled. 

To donate, click here.

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