In a typical year, thousands of walkers would have filled the Mall of America on Thanksgiving Day for the annual Walk to End Hunger, raising money for Minnesota hunger relief organizations.

But on Thursday, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the walk moved online for the first time in its 13 years and fell short of its goal to raise $250,000. In all, $208,000 was donated to support nine organizations.

"Due to the pandemic and civil unrest, food insecurity in Minnesota has never been greater," Hunger Solutions Executive Director Colleen Moriarty said in a statement. "And, with winter imminent, the need will only intensify."

Across the state, food shelves are seeing double or triple the number of people in need compared to last year, many of them seeking help for the first time.

This year's Walk to End Hunger benefited the Food Group, a food bank in New Hope; Hunger Solutions, a statewide advocacy group; Keystone Community Services, a St. Paul nonprofit; Loaves and Fishes, a Minnea­polis-based free meal program; Meals on Wheels, which provides meals to seniors and people with disabilities; Minnesota FoodShare, a program of the Greater Minneapolis Community Connections; Neighbors Inc., a social services provider in Dakota County; PRISM, a Golden Valley nonprofit; and Second Harvest Heartland, a Brooklyn Park-based food bank.

Go to to make a donation.

Kelly Smith • 612-673-4141