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MN food shelves see historic demand due to inflation, other factors

Advocates say they’re seeing more people asking for help at food shelves across the state.

MINNEAPOLIS — So much for a steady economic recovery: Advocates say they’re seeing more people asking for help at food shelves across the state.

And the culprit creating this dynamic is actually a triple threat of lingering effects of the pandemic, waning federal support programs and, of course, inflation.

“We’ve seen about a 57 percent increase. And what that means around the state of Minnesota is that shelves [that] are only open once or twice a week – literally the shelves are bare,” said Colleen Moriarty, Executive Director of Hunger Solutions Minnesota.

Moriarty noted that advocates are also bracing for an extended recovery for families – not the typical timeline of 18 to 22 months – given the unique characteristics of the current crisis.

“I think it will be longer because of the high food prices,” she said, adding: “The wages aren’t going to keep up.”

Historic food shelf sees historic demand 

As Executive Director of the Joyce Uptown Foodshelf, Matthew Ayres represents an organization that has served the greater community for more than half a century. But never has he seen neighborhood need like what the Uptown Minneapolis institution saw last month.

“Last month, June, was a record, we served more people in June than we have any month in the last five years,” he said, noting that many of those stopping by the Victorian home on 31st and Fremont Avenues were doing so for the first time.

“We’re seeing almost 20 people a day come in just for those emergency bags – which really is kind of the canary in the coal mine. These are 20 new people a day who’ve never come into this building who are suddenly in need of some sort of food resources,” he said.

What’s worse, Ayres notes, inflation is hitting food shelves like his from opposite directions: food shelves are both dealing with increased demand and higher food prices. That’s why he’s hoping the community rises to the challenge at this historic moment.

“The thing that people need to understand is that they or their loved ones could be the next person that’s running into huge financial issues and needs to come in here, so there just needs to be some compassion for folks that are just trying to make it work and support for the programs that are helping them,” he said.

To listen to Karla Hult’s interviews with both Matthew Ayres and Colleen Moriarty, just click on the attached video. And to learn where you can find help OR donate to your local food shelf, just go to the Hunger Solutions website. You can also donate directly to Joyce Uptown Foodshelf – and their fabulous "Sponsor an Egg!" effort to offset the increasing price of eggs. 

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