As more and more Minnesotans visit food shelves during the COVID-19 pandemic, emergency food providers are getting a $12 million boost to help meet demand across the state.
Gov. Tim Walz and Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan announced $12 million in federal coronavirus relief aid for food shelves and food banks has been approved by the Legislative Advisory Commission. The governor previously shared the plan to use $12 million of the CARES Act to combat hunger when he announced his plan for the $853 million in coronavirus relief money.
“No Minnesotan should go to bed hungry or be forced to learn on an empty stomach,” Gov. Walz said in a news release Wednesday. “I want to thank our partners who have done incredible work to fight hunger in Minnesota, and the food shelves and food banks that have stepped up to serve families across the state throughout this pandemic.”
About 300,000 Minnesotans have gone to a food shelf each month since March when the pandemic began. That's about a 30 percent increase over the typical number of visits the state's food shelves and food banks see. As a result, food banks are distributing roughly 2.4 million pounds of food a week, which is a 20-40 percent increase since 2019.
And the need for food is expected to grow in the coming weeks and months. Last month, data predicted a Depression-era level of food need in Minnesota due to the pandemic, with needs peaking in September.
“Food shelves and banks across the state have stepped up to meet the increased food needs of Minnesotans,” Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan said in the release. “This support will make sure that children and families, seniors, people experiencing homelessness, Native communities, communities of color, and all Minnesotans who need a bit of relief can put food on the table during these challenging months.”
In total, the governor has directed $75 million in federal coronavirus relief aid toward food security, the release said.
Food assistance resources
The state has a food emergency website filled with food assistance resources for people in need.
By July 31, eligible families can request additional P-EBT benefits, which are SNAP benefits for families with school-age children who qualify for the federal free and reduced-price meal program. To apply for that, click here.