Minnesota food pantries and homeless shelters get nearly $3M in federal funds

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Minnesota food pantries and homeless shelters have been awarded nearly $3 million in continued federal funding to combat what homeless advocates call a significant increase this year in the number of Minnesotans seeking emergency food and shelter.

About $1 million of that will go to the Twin Cities area.

Joblessness in Minnesota has soared in the last two years, with the state’s unemployment rate up to 7.4 percent in November (the last month data area available for) from just 4.2 percent in November 2007. Although that’s below the national average of 10 percent, and actually a small decline from June when the rate peaked at 8.4 percent, demand for supplies is still far above normal.

Food shelters have seen a 43 percent increase in traffic this year, said Frank Forsberg, senior vice president of Twin Cities United Way.

“Even though United Way raised additional emergency funds for food and housing programs in 2009, it is good news that the Federal Emergency Management Assistance fund is available again in 2010,” Forsberg said in a statement. “These funds play a vital role in meeting the needs for food, shelter and rental assistance.”

“We are entering the peak of the winter season, and many people need access to food and shelter,” agreed Sen. Amy Klobuchar. “I have always believed that the first responsibility of government is to ensure the safety of its citizens. This funding will give local communities the ability to provide a warm bed and a hot meal to someone in need.”

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Comments (1)

  1. Submitted by Katherine Werner on 01/06/2010 - 05:45 pm.

    If Frank Forsberg is so dang concerned about the huge increase in local food shelf use, then why did he, and Marcia Fink of United Way’s Basic Needs Group, abruptly terminate the Hunger Program in December 2008? The Hunger Program efficiently raised 400,000 lbs of food direct supporting many local food shelves at an annual cost of only $80,000 a year. I know. I managed it and was laid off and now use one of those food shelves.

    Frank and Marcia demolished this successful grassroots-type of project, the first of its kind, just when food shelf use began to increase last year: “No funding,” they said. Nonsense! United Way collected $93.1 million in DONATIONS for 2009 programs.

    United Way is a fund raising dinosaur, taking money from the community with help from corporations through a monopoly system, and deciding themselves who gets it. With the exception of this short-lived hands-on project, United Way does not do good directly. Maybe they found this successful grassroots project too threatening to their profitable role of middle man.

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