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.”