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Volunteers tend to dwindle right now – so this food bank is asking people to step up

Volunteers tend to go down in January and February. So they're asking for more help.

Second Harvest Heartland is one of the biggest food banks in the country, distributing more than 80 million meals annually.

But they need more help.

The organization says it usually sees volunteering go down in January and February, and is calling for more volunteers to help get food to people for the next couple months.

There are warehouses in Maplewood and Golden Valley, where people are needed to sort and repack food. Families with children are welcome to volunteer too.

You can see shifts and other volunteer options here.

In addition, if you're looking for places to volunteer in Minnesota, check out VolunteerMatch to see options.

Volunteering

The most recent federal statistics show the volunteer rate in America was 24.9 percent. What that means is from September 2014-15, about 62.6 million people volunteered at least once.

The rate has fallen for at least five straight years.

FiveThirtyEight found volunteering tends to tick upward in November and December, during the holiday season, compared to January through October. But while more people volunteer, the total number of hours volunteered actually drops off a bit during those holiday months.

Minnesota generally ranks as one of the top states for volunteering. In 2015, more than 35 percent of Minnesotans volunteered, the Corporation for National and Community Service said.

Hunger in America

Food insecurity, according to the USDA, is not having access to enough foods to live an active and healthy lifestyle, and having limited or uncertain availability of food that’s adequately nutritious.

Feeding America says about 48 millions Americans struggle to get enough food to eat.

Compared to the rest of the country, Minnesota is generally on the lower end for food insecurity – but it’s still anywhere from about 8 to 12 percent, depending on the county. In Minnesota, about one in 10 households are affected by hunger.

This map by Feeding America lets you explore food insecurity rates by county, or sift through the data in this table.

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