Nearly half of those who come to Interfaith Outreach for the first time need food. The most vulnerable members of our community — seniors living on fixed incomes, families struggling to make ends meet, and children — too often miss meals. With the help of this generous community, we distributed nearly 1 million pounds of food and household essentials last year, helping families stretch budgets and prevent hunger. While food might be the most urgent need, it’s usually not the only challenge our neighbors face. At Interfaith Outreach, we also work holistically to prevent future hunger through employment and family support services. Your gifts are feeding families and fueling hope for people who live, work and play right next door.
What does “food insecurity” mean?
“Food insecurity” is the state of being without reliable access to a sufficient quantity of food. Nearly half of our neighbors who come to Interfaith Outreach for the first time tell us they need food. Children especially feel the pangs of hunger on evenings, weekends and vacations. Of those who use the food shelf, 44% are children. (Source: Interfaith Outreach 2019 program model outcomes)
Is there really a need in west suburban Hennepin County?
Hunger is all around us. The primary cause of hunger in our resource-abundant community is not a lack of food. Instead, it is a lack of access to food due to poverty. Poverty in the Twin Cities suburbs has grown three times faster than poverty in Minneapolis and St. Paul over the past 10 years. 14% of people in the Interfaith Outreach service area live in poverty. While the unemployment rate is low, the lack of available living wage jobs means that many working families are struggling with incomes that can scarcely cover basic needs like food, housing, child care and transportation. (Source: Wilder Research) In 2017, Minnesotans visited food shelves the highest number of times in recorded history. (Source: Hunger Solutions.org) Last year, Interfaith Outreach distributed nearly 1 million pounds of food and household goods to local families.
How does hunger affect seniors locally?
Social Security is the only source of income for almost 3 in 10 Minnesotans age 65+ (AARP). With a median income for Minnesota seniors of $37,400 and with housing costs continuing to rise, it is estimated that more than one-third of older adults are housing cost-burdened (mncompass.org), forcing people to make difficult choices. Often people drop medical insurance or skip meals to make up the difference.
If this campaign is about hunger, why does it also fund employment and family support services?
Preventing hunger involves far more than food. Hunger is prevented by well-paying jobs and budgets that work. Interfaith Outreach works holistically to feed families and fuel their hope and success. We stabilize families by meeting their immediate needs, often providing fresh foods that power healthy minds and bodies. And, we strengthen our neighbors through employment and family support services — raising confidence, skills and income levels to help families move toward a stable, successful, thriving future.
How do Interfaith Outreach and the community help our neighbors with food?
Last year, 3,956 individuals needed our food shelf to stretch their budgets and prevent hunger. Thanks to community support last year, 971,195 pounds of food and household goods were distributed to meet the emergency and ongoing needs of families, kids, seniors and those with disabilities to make their budgets work. Program participants can receive the equivalent of $40 of food and essential household items per family member. In the last 10 years, Interfaith Outreach has increased the amount of food and goods it has distributed to struggling families by 19%.
How do Interfaith Outreach and the community help our neighbors with employment?
The gap between net income and ordinary living costs for food, rent, child care, health care and transportation is staggering. Despite low unemployment rates (3.3% in Minnesota in November 2019), the Aspen Institute notes “two-thirds of job growth projected to 2026 is in occupations that typically pay less than a family-sustaining wage.” That means that many working families are struggling with incomes that can scarcely cover basic needs like food, housing, child care and transportation. Interfaith Outreach’s Employment Services program works with individuals so they can find employment that meets their financial needs. In Hennepin County, a single adult with one child would need to work full time and earn $26.45/hour to support their family.
Interfaith Outreach and its partners helped 238 people increase job readiness and secure and retain jobs last year. Jobs with family-sustaining wages will prevent hunger over time. The employment team guides clients through career exploration and individual assessment, job coaching and skill development, and job placement and retention. Program participants strive to improve their position on their career ladder, working from immediate employment to higher-paying transitional opportunities, and ultimately, toward their target job or career.
How do Interfaith Outreach and the community help our neighbors with holistic family support?
Job loss, threat of eviction, medical problems and car breakdowns present big challenges to local families lacking financial resources. Last year nearly 2,000 local families experiencing a crisis worked side by side with Interfaith Outreach staff to address needs and pursue goals. Case managers provide information, connections to resources, problem-solving and goal-setting assistance, advocacy, counseling, support and emergency financial assistance — all to help equip families to meet their needs and prevent hunger in the future.
What do my dollars actually do when I donate to the Prevent Hunger campaign?
For every $1 you donate, Interfaith Outreach can source $9 worth of food through partnerships in the community. The food shelf support will stretch lean budgets so families can pay for housing and other basic needs. Cash donations prevent hunger by meeting immediate needs through the food shelf and by addressing the underlying issues leading to food insecurity.
There are so many ways you can help address hunger by supporting Interfaith Outreach’s Prevent Hunger campaign, part of the Minnesota FoodShare March Campaign, a GMCC program.
Questions? Contact Lani Willis at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 763-489-7704.