Why March Matters
It was early-December, and Mai Thao was scared. Her SNAP benefits for the month had nearly been exhausted, and she was getting threatening messages from her landlord over unpaid rent. A single mother, she had begun skipping lunch to keep food on the table for her three children and was beginning to worry how she would provide meals during the two weeks when they would be on holiday break.
Affecting 1 in 5 Minnesotan families, hunger can be an immediate crisis or a long-term problem. Either way, families must address their food needs before focusing on other challenges that contribute to poverty. Food is a flexible expense in a way that other living costs are not. Many families have little control over the cost of rent, heating a home, or putting gas in the car – and are forced to make challenging decisions at the grocery store. Unfortunately, the most inexpensive foods are often the least nutritious, creating the surprising link between hunger, obesity, and chronic illness.
At the urging of a friend, Mai visited Francis Basket, Neighborhood House’s free Food Market in Highland Park. During her intake, a staff member learned more about Mai, her challenges, and the needs of her family. She was connected with rental assistance, assigned a case manager, and left with bags of fruits, vegetables, and culturally-appropriate foods to help her stretch the family’s food budget until the end of the month.
A Crisis Case Worker at Neighborhood House, Fartun Abdinoor has witnessed firsthand the need for food and other basic necessities by the families that she works with. “Having access to food alleviates stress from the lives of families who would otherwise struggle to get food on the table for their children.” She says. “When participants arrive at our Food Markets, they receive more than food; they access a network of resources designed to help them identify and overcome the challenges preventing them from building better lives.” Your support provides families with the food they need today, and empowers them to work toward a future free of poverty.
Each March, Neighborhood House leads one of the largest food drive campaigns in the state of Minnesota. The food and funds we gather during this time are crucial to ensuring that the 16,000 St Paul families we serve each year receive the food they need to live healthy, successful lives.
You can make a difference. Make a gift! Volunteer! Lead a Food Drive! Or create your own giving page to inspire family and friends! $22 feeds a family of 4 for a week!
By: Anders Ringdahl-Mayland