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Walz announces $12 million to combat hunger in Minnesota amid COVID-19 pandemic

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ST. PAUL, Minn. (KTTC) -- With an increased number of Minnesotans experiencing hunger amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Gov. Tim Walz announced the state's effort to support food shelves and food banks.

On Wednesday, Walz announced $12 million in support for about 300 food shelves and all seven food banks in the state.

Gov. Walz and Lt. Gov. Flanagan touring the food shelf at the Department of Indian Work.

“No Minnesotan should go to bed hungry or be forced to learn on an empty stomach,” Walz said in a news release. “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.”

Since the COVID-19 pandemic hit, food insecurities have gotten worse.

"We've got one out of eight neighbors that do not know where their next meal is coming from," Walz said. Adding, "the idea any of our neighbors would go to bed hungry is simply unacceptable."

Each month since the beginning of the pandemic, about 300,000 Minnesotans have visited food shelves, Walz said. He said this represents about a 30 percent increase from the typical number of visits. Walz added that food banks are distributing about 2.4 million pounds of food each week, which is reportedly a 20 to 40 percent increase since 2019.

Walz said the $12 million will allow food shelves and food banks to meet the increased demand.

“Food shelves and banks across the state have stepped up to meet the increased food needs of Minnesotans,” Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan said in a news 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.”

Flanagan said the need is greater today to help out food organizations.

"Visits to food shelf have increased by 30 percent since the beginning of COVID, enrollment in SNAP has increased by 40 percent, and more than 200,000 families have applied for additional food support," she said.

Programs she relied on growing up and pain she knows first hand. "There would be times when my mom would simply say she wasn't hungry," she said.

This is the second wave of funding for those organizations, part of the $75 million the state got from the CARES Act for COVID-19 relief.

Information about food assistance resources can be found here. Minnesotans can also fill out an application for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program here. For those who need help applying, you can call the Food Helpline at 1-888-711-1151 or visit the Hunger Solutions website.

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Nicole Valinote

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Ubah Ali

Ubah Ali

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