In the fight against hunger and homelessness, two St. Paul programs have won praise for providing healthy, affordable food and expanded affordable housing.

The programs, Second Harvest Heartland, which seeks new sources of fresh fruit and vegetables for those in need, and Catholic Charities’ Higher Ground project now underway to replace the overcrowded Dorothy Day Center in downtown St. Paul, were lauded for their work in a report on hunger and homelessness released Tuesday by the U.S. Conference of Mayors.

“I am incredibly proud of the projects happening here in St. Paul — such as Higher Ground — that will ensure the dignity of all people,” St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman said in a statement Tuesday. “Projects and partnerships such as these are vital to the growth and success of the city.”

St. Paul was one of 22 cities surveyed by the U.S. Conference of Mayors. As part of the survey, officials were asked to provide information on the extent and causes of hunger and homelessness in their cities, as well as identify the emergency food assistance and homeless services provided in their cities between Sept. 1, 2014, and Aug. 31, 2015. They also were asked to assess the demand for services and the resources available to them in the year ahead.

Among the findings:

• Sixty-six percent of the survey cities reported that the number of requests for emergency food assistance increased over the past year; 67 percent were people in families, 42 percent were employed, 23 percent were elderly and 10 percent were homeless.

• The total number of homeless persons in the cities surveyed increased an average of 1.6 percent. The number of homeless families decreased an average of 5.2 percent.

In St. Paul, Catholic Charities is replacing its overcrowded Dorothy Day Center with a new $40 million housing project that will be built nearby with state, local and private money.

Second Harvest Heartland’s Share Fresh MN program collects more than 8.4 million pounds of fruits and vegetables from more than 55 growers.

For more information about these programs and the overall report, go to: