Target and Cargill are pledging $10 million each over the next five years to Second Harvest Heartland's new "moonshot" initiative to reduce hunger in Minnesota.
On Monday, Second Harvest, Minnesota's largest food bank, announced its new "Make Hunger History" plan, aiming to cut the record 7.5 million food shelf visits in 2023 in half by 2030. The pledges from the Twin Cities-based companies are the first significant donations to the plan, which Second Harvest estimates will cost more than $150 million over the next six years in new staffing and programs.
"Food banks are only part of the solution," Second Harvest Heartland CEO Allison O'Toole said. "Things are going in the wrong direction and we must do better."
Gov. Tim Walz and Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan touted the Legislature's approval last year of policies to reduce hunger and poverty, including free school meals and the new $1,750 child tax credit that will assist nearly 300,000 households.
Walz said reducing hunger results in a better-trained workforce and educated students who aren't worried about where their next meal will come from.
"Even if the moral imperative of feeding children doesn't move you, the economic imperative certainly should because our future depends on us getting this right," he said. "We need to show that this not only works to provide food for children [and] improve their lives, it works to improve the economy and in the long run, you save money by investing now in this."
The DFL leaders added that the state will double down on efforts to end hunger. "The state is ready to play our part in supporting the work that our food shelves are doing around the clock and across the state," Flanagan said.
Second Harvest's plan includes beefing up staffing on data, outreach and policy teams to better connect residents to social services and advocate at the State Capitol for legislation that helps low-income Minnesotans. Second Harvest is also planning to boost mobile food distributions and expand Kitchen Coalition, which provides to-go meals to people in need.
But O'Toole said nonprofits can't do the work alone, and they need more help from the corporate and government sectors to address and prevent hunger.
Colleen May, who is on Second Harvest's board and leads the Cargill Foundation, which participated in Kitchen Coalition — then called Minnesota Central Kitchen — added that she hopes other companies and foundations are inspired to give.
"We are on an unsustainable trajectory," May said. "The time for bold solutions and stronger collaboration has arrived."