ST PAUL, Minn. — The Minnesota governor is announcing a $12 million effort to combat hunger in the state during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Gov. Tim Walz and Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan visited the Department of Indian Work in St. Paul on Wednesday, where they took a tour and then addressed the media.
The funding announced Wednesday will support approximately 300 food shelves and all seven food banks in Minnesota. It was made possible by the CARES Act and approved by the Legislative Advisory Commission.
“No Minnesotan should go to bed hungry or be forced to learn on an empty stomach,” 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.”
According to Walz's office, about 300,000 Minnesotans have visited food shelves every month since the COVID-19 pandemic began, about 30% higher than usual. Food banks are distributing about 2.4 million pounds of food per week, a 20 to 40% increase from 2019.
Department of Indian Work Director Kelly Miller spoke with the governor Wednesday, along with Hunger Solutions Executive Director Colleen Moriarty.
Second Harvest Heartland, one of the country's largest food banks, announced two weeks ago that new data shows a looming hunger crisis in Minnesota "unlike anything seen since the Great Depression."
That data showed that an additional 275,000 Minnesotans will face food insecurity beginning in July or late summer, as supplemental unemployment runs out for those who have lost jobs due to COVID-19.
By August, Second Harvest estimated that more than one in eight people in Minnesota will struggle to put meals on the table.