By John Michaelson
Minnesota News Connection
ST. PAUL, Minn. (July 7, 2014) — A statewide effort is underway to help donations to food shelves go further, as summer is often their toughest time. The 5th annual Open Your Heart Food Shelf Challenge has $150,000 available to match donations in July.
Ed Murphy is executive director of the group Open Your Heart to the Hungry and Homeless, which is putting on the challenge along with Hunger Solutions Minnesota. He said demand on food shelves increases during the summer, when children who receive free or reduced-priced school lunches are at home.
“Summer is also not a good time for food shelves in terms of securing donations,” said Murphy. “People are busy with their summer plans and vacations. It’s historically a time that food shelves have very low donations. So this is an important time to be adding some funds into food shelves, where they can better meet their growing needs.”
Murphy noted that even as Minnesota’s jobless rate is at the lowest point in seven years, food shelf use increased by about 60 percent in that same time, so that they’re now used by 1 in 5 families statewide.
“Wages are very stagnant,” said Murphy, “even though more people are working. Wages aren’t growing for middle-and lower-class folks. So, it’s really important that there’s some supplement.”