Skip to main content
Publish date:

Food shelf use is the 'new normal' in Minnesota, hunger group says

Unemployment is falling, so why is food shelf use still rising?

The number of Minnesotans using food shelves hit a record high in 2017, according to analysis of state data by Hunger Solutions.

Visits to food shelves across the state numbered 3,402,077 last year, marking the 7th consecutive year – since the depths of the financial crisis – that the number has exceeded 3 million.

"In other words, since the recession, it's become the 'new normal' in Minnesota," Hunger Solutions Executive Director Colleen Moriarity said in a news release.

Food shelf visits up in the majority of Minnesota counties between 2013-17, its study found, with usage tripling in Kittson County, on Minnesota's northwestern border.

Of those using food shelves, 54.9 percent of them were in the Twin Cities metro area, with central Minnesota the next highest with 11.5 percent of total visits.

Children represented 36.4 percent of food shelf usage in the state, totaling more than 1.2 million visits, while elderly visits has risen by 39.3 percent since 2012, totaling 308,609 visits in 2017.

Today's Top Stories: 

– 5 year old among 2 killed in crash near McGregor.

– Best Buy changes its logo for first time in 3 decades.

– Follow Bring Me The News on Flipboard.

Why is food shelf use rising?

Moriarity says that food shelf usage rose with unemployment in the wake of the recession.

But now unemployment is falling and median incomes are above the national average, yet still we're seeing a record number of Minnesotans are still struggling to put food on the table.

This hints at the widening gap between the rich and the poor, as well as the racial economic disparities that continue to exist in Minnesota – particularly the Twin Cities.

Peg Keenan, of the ICA Food Shelf in Minnetonka, told the Star Tribune in December that unemployment statistics don't show the full situation of those who aren't making a living wage.

Some are technically employed but are having to work two or three jobs – with no health care or benefits – to make ends meet, she said.

Even though the typical Minnesota household income is above average, there hasn't really been much of a wage rise since the financial downturn.

Median incomes rose by just 7.89 percent between 2011 and 2016, according to The Department of Numbers, and with adjustments for inflation Minnesotans are barely in a better position than they were in 2005.

Next Up

Justin Jefferson

Vikings-49ers: 5 things you can count on

Sunday's matchup is a pivotal game in the NFC playoff picture.

Gopher Football

Watch: Gophers troll Badgers with 'Jump Around' after Saturday's win

First they took Paul Bunyan's Axe. Then they took their tradition.

Brandon Richart, missing person

Search underway for missing man in Anoka area

Brandon Richart was last seen Nov. 17.

U.S. Bank Stadium

5 teams win first state championships at Prep Bowl

A pair of records fell as the Prep Bowl lived up to the hype.

ashley Carlson

Remains of missing WI mom found in Pine County, MN

Ashley Miller-Carlson was 33 years old.

D'Angelo Russell

D'Lo's late takeover helps Timberwolves win double-OT thriller

Russell caught fire to help the Timberwolves get back to .500.

Gopher Football

Gophers suffocate Badgers, reclaim Paul Bunyan's Axe

Minnesota picked up its first home win over the Badgers since 2003.

Meeker County Sheriff's Office

Boy, 6, run over after falling off trailer in Meeker Co. tree farm accident

He was airlifted to Hennepin County Medical Center with internal injuries.

Target store

Target unveils deals for 2-day 'Cyber Monday' event

The promotion kicks off Sunday, November 28.

Screen Shot 2021-11-27 at 9.59.30 AM

Edina police warn of recent burglary trend targeting garages and vehicles

The Edina Police Department is increasing patrols in affected neighborhoods in response to the trend.


Minnesota State Fair

Walz: 2021 State Fair should be 'pretty close to a normal event'

COVID cases have been falling while vaccinations have been rising.

Kemps' shelf-stable "Giving Cow Project" milk

MN-based Kemps donates 500k cartons of 'shelf-stable' milk

The campaign includes Cub Foods and Second Harvest Heartland.

Which food stands accept credit cards at the Minnesota State Fair?

Many food and drink stands don't take cards – but some do.

Which food stands accept credit cards at the Minnesota State Fair?

Many food and drink stands don't take cards – but some do.

State Fair Food Guide 2018: The best new foods, and one to miss

Food writer Haley Nelson sampled some of the new dishes on offer this year.

Cub Foods

Normal hours resume at Cub Foods, with 63 stores open 24-hours

The retailer slashed its hours following the outbreak of COVID-19.

Screen Shot 2020-03-19 at 2.36.54 PM

Someone stole an SUV full of food donations in New Hope

The food was being donated to a local food shelf.