May 10, 2023 | By: Justin Othoudt

Minnesota Food Shelves Expecting Higher Demand in Coming Months

In March of 2023, Minnesota’s COVID Emergency Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or E-SNAP, was cut. The program provided emergency funds for low-income families in need of food, and now with the project cuts, local food shelves are seeing an increase in demand.

“We’ve seen an increase in people, families seeking support,” explained Bemidji Community Food Shelf Executive Director Michael Olson. “We’re up about 20% on average of people coming in looking for food support.”

And now that the school year is coming to a close, food shelves are becoming a crucial resource to families in need.

“Summer is a hunger time, we kinda say, ‘When school ends hunger begins,’ and part of that has to do with the fact that many people, many families rely on school lunches for part of their food,” said Olson.

“Those are things that we’re verbally hearing from people, not just expecting,” said Walker Area Food Shelf Executive Director Chad Trapier. “I had two families tell us that their kids are moving back home now, now that they are out of college, or finished their semester, or that there’s a break.”

With an increase in demand for food shelves and the services they provide, some community members may wonder, “What can I do to help?”

“First and foremost is definitely get in touch with the food shelf directly. Every food shelf’s needs are different,” said Trapier.

“We are in need of volunteers,” explained Olson. “It’s easy to do, we’re very flexible.”

Despite the increased usage, area food shelves still hope to meet the demands of the public, however they can.

“Everybody here in these food shelves are just trying to make a difference and to make an impact, and most of these people are volunteers,” said Trapier.

The Bemidji Community Food Shelf will also be hosting their annual Spring Plant Sale on Saturday, May 20th to help provide resources to their garden, which gives natural produce to the community.

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