No one likes to feel insecure. Given a choice, most of us would pick confidence and certainty over apprehension and doubt. That’s true whether we’re fretting over having a bad hair day or anxious about…where our family’s next meal is coming from.
Yes, bad hair days are meaningless compared to worrying about feeding your kids.
Food Insecurity Over 10 Percent
Yesterday’s release by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) of its latest food security report has created a flurry of discussion about hunger — the severity of the problem, the causes, and the solutions. Particularly contentious are the current debates about the federal food stamp program, or Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). (For example, read yesterday’s New York Times article, see today’s blog from the Minnesota Budget Project, or check out this segment from Moyers & Company.)
According to the USDA, 10.6 percent of Minnesota households were food insecure in 2012. That means that they lacked access to enough food for an active, healthy life for all household members.
Grantmaking to Alleviate Hunger
So what are Minnesota’s philanthropists doing to address food insecurity in our state? Here’s a quick snapshot:
- In 2011 Minnesota grantmaking in the food, nutrition and agriculture subcategory of human services funding was just over $28 million. You might say that’s not enough, but it’s up from $11 million in 2006.
- A search of MCF’s Minnesota Grantmakers Online shows that more than 50 of 400 funders who accept unsolicited proposals list food, nutrition and agriculture as one of their areas of interest.
- According to MCF’s Giving in Minnesota research, the largest hunger funders (from our top 100 sample) include Cargill Foundation and Cargill, Inc., Target Foundation & Corporation, General Mills Foundation & Corporation, Greater Twin Cities United Way and The McKnight Foundation.
- In addition, other MCF corporate members work directly in food production, processing and distribution and fund in the food category, including CHS, Hormel, Land O’ Lakes, Mosaic, C.H. Robinson, SUPERVALU and others. (MCF’s summer issue of Giving Forum featured some of their efforts.)
- The Healthy Food Healthy Communities Funders Network, one of many MCF issue-focused member networks, focuses on agricultural development, building community capacity for food systems development, creating access to affordable, healthy, locally produced food, and increasing knowledge and regular practice of food production, preparation and preservation.
Hunger Intertwined with Poverty
Of course, lack of adequate, nutritious food is just one of the innumerable burdens of poverty — a much more immense issue that a host of other MCF members are striving to alleviate. (See MCF’s Giving Forum edition on the interconnected causes of poverty.)
Minnesotans worried about food are just as insecure about their next paycheck, their next doctor’s visit, their utility bills, their day care costs…the list goes on. So, the next time you’re worried about a bad hair day, think again. Your neighbor may have a much more serious worry.
- Wendy Wehr, vice president of communications and information services.