More than 300 food shelves across the state will see an influx of $12 million in federal funding in response to increased demand during the coronavirus pandemic.
Gov. Tim Walz and Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan announced the funding Wednesday after a tour of the Department of Indian Work in St. Paul, a food shelf that works with Native American families to provide healthy meals.
“Delivery of that food to families in normal times is difficult enough, but now in the time of COVID, one in eight of our neighbors doesn’t know where their next meal is coming from,” Walz said.
Food shelves have seen a 30% increase in visits each month since the coronavirus pandemic began, according to the state. Walz said the destruction of some grocery stores in the Twin Cities during civil unrest that followed George Floyd’s killing has made the situation more dire for some families.
Flanagan said her family relied on food shelves and food stamps when she was growing up.
“There would be times that my mom would say that she wasn’t hungry, and it wasn’t until I grew up that I realized that she just didn’t eat because there wasn’t enough food in the house,” she said. “It was really critical to our survival.”
The funding through the federal CARES Act was approved by a legislative panel and can immediately go out to food shelves and all seven food banks in the state. It’s part of $75 million total that’s been directed to state food programs since the pandemic began.