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Minnesota food shelf visits in 2020 up 1.5 million from previous year

Plus: St. Paul students of color more than twice as likely to be failing a class than white peers; Winona County’s swing to Biden makes it exceptional; Twin Cities film scene pioneer Al Milgrom dies; and more.

food shelf
REUTERS/Bing Guan

It’s been a difficult year. The Star Tribune’s Kelly Smith reports: “Food shelves and meal programs across Minnesota fear a COVID-triggered hunger crisis will remain at record levels through 2021 — a ‘new normal’ of need. But the state appears to have flattened the hunger curve, avoiding bleak forecasts from earlier this year. … New data shows food shelves are on pace to end 2020 with a record 3.75 million visits — nearly 1.5 million more visits than in 2008 during the recession, according to Hunger Solutions, a statewide advocacy group. The number of visitors to food shelves during the Great Recession doubled and never bounced back to prerecession levels, so nonprofits now worry about sustaining the food needed for the higher demand far into 2021, even if the virus threat ends.”

Not a good result. At Sahan Journal, Becky Z. Dernbach reports: “Nearly half of all secondary students in St. Paul Public Schools failed a class in the first quarter of the 2020-2021 school year. Failing grades are two and a half times more common than last year. And students of color in every demographic category are more than twice as likely to be failing a class as their white peers. … Those are among the findings district leadership presented to the St. Paul school board December 15, in data broken down by racial and ethnic groups for the first time. … The numbers are a grim indication of how students are struggling through the combined pressures of distance learning and a global pandemic—especially students of color, who make up four-fifths of the district’s student population.”

The view from Winona County. The New York Times’ Trip Gabriel reports: “Lawn signs, everyone agrees, don’t vote. But they proved to be an accurate omen in Winona County, Minn. — more reliable than the haywire polling of 2020 or the big crowds for President Trump. … ‘This year, we couldn’t keep up, we constantly had to get more Biden yard signs,’ said Caitlin Nicholson, the Democratic chair in the county, which is in southeastern Minnesota, bordering Wisconsin. … Winona County was one of 206 ‘pivot counties’ that mesmerized campaign analysts and reporters after the 2016 election by voting for Mr. Trump after having twice voted for President Barack Obama. Election obsessives sought to know: Who were these voters who had flip-flopped so dramatically? … This year, Winona County pivoted again, to President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. It was one of 25 Obama-Trump counties nationwide that returned to the Democratic fold, according to Ballotpedia, a site that analyzes election data. … But Winona County turns out to be an exception.

Quite a life. The Star Tribune’s Alicia Eler reports: “Al Milgrom was the kind of guy who always seemed young, even when he wasn’t. At age 96, he came out as the ‘oldest emerging documentary filmmaker’ with the premiere of ‘Singin’ in the Grain,’ his portrait of a multigenerational Minnesota polka band. … But Milgrom is better known for fostering the Twin Cities film scene. … He founded what is now the Film Society of Minneapolis St. Paul, taught cinema at the University of Minnesota and launched the Minneapolis St. Paul International Film Festival. Along the way, he built an audience for foreign and independent films while bringing such famed directors as Werner Herzog, Jean-Luc Godard and Milos Forman to town. … He seemed unstoppable, celebrating his 98th birthday just weeks ago. But last week he had a stroke and died Sunday at his home in Dinkytown.”

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In other news…

It could happen:Minnesota Weather: Will There Be A White Christmas In The Twin Cities This Year?” [WCCO]

Sounds like a bad situation:Timberwolves guard Malik Beasley pleads guilty to threats of violence” [KSTP]

Great, Dane:Wisconsin county spent nearly $730K on presidential recount” [Star Tribune]

Pride of Minnesota:McDonald’s China Offers Burger With Crushed Oreos And Spam (You Read That Correctly)” [WCCO]

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