by KARA ALLEN, CSU Public Relations Assistant
National Homeless and Hunger Awareness Week is the annual effort towards addressing food insecurity and homelessness.
Traditionally, during this recognized time, participating groups spend the week holding a series of educational, service, fundraising, and advocacy events. Activities and support events can include things such as food drives, annual chili feeds, or sleeping in your car type events in order to raise awareness and support those facing homelessness and/or food insecurity.
While the pandemic has curbed this year’s activities the commitment hasn’t diminished.
Homelessness and food insecurity is close to home. Prior to the outbreak of COVID-19, there was an average of 20,000 Minnesotans that identified themselves as homeless every night. In the bitter cold of Minnesotan winters, this number is disheartening and furthermore: extremely dangerous for those unable to seek shelter.
Furthermore, approximately 10.5 percent of households experienced food insecurity at some point during 2019 in the United States. This percentage has annually decreased since the recession of 2008, but families and individuals are still struggling.
In Minnesota specifically, 1 out of every 12 households struggle with food insecurity.
To put this in perspective: the population of Minneapolis and St. Paul area combined equates to the number of Minnesotans who experience food insecurity. Minnesota residents who face food insecurity report needing a combined $240.6 million to be able to solve their food needs.
COVID-19 has impacted homelessness and food insecurity in numerous ways.
With COVID-19 came a loss of jobs and a loss of money to accommodate needs of rent, food or other things like transportation. Throughout the pandemic, there have been many efforts to continue to help those in need without being face to face. Such as homeless shelters working with hotels to be able to practice social distancing or REACH still providing meals and coats at their door even though they are closed.
So what can we do? Minnesota State University, Mankato hosts an annual food drive to help fight insecurity as well as a sleep out event one day of the week.
This year, there is a new collaboration with the effort of student government as well as a collaboration with the campus cupboard. Also, Minnesota State Mankato launched their Swipe Out Hunger program, where 360 students have been awarded extra dining dollar swipes where resources are also shared.
One of those resources is our Campus Kitchen where students can come by and get free food when they are facing food insecurity.
Off-campus, the Salvation Army posted their seasonal shelter job for up to 25 hours a week.
Lastly, spread awareness. Start conversations about food insecurity and homelessness and how it affects those around you. Challenge yourself and others to draw attention to these issues and find how you can best support those facing homelessness and food insecurity.
Salvation Army’s Seasonal Shelter job:
- 7:45AM-1:15P, 12:45P-6:15P, Every other weekend.
- $12/hr. Up to 25 hours per week.
Looking for students willing to help plan and present the Free Farmers Market on 1/10/21. Please contact Karen Anderson if any questions.
Swipe Out Hunger Program
Campus Kitchen Directions and Tour:
Apply to SNAP Benefits:
Enter to win for yourself and CK!