Partnership fills food and nutrition needs during summer months

by Hennepin Healthcare

Hennepin County Medical Center and Open Your Heart to the Hungry and Homeless Announce Sixth Annual Food Shelf Challenge Grant

The Hennepin Health Foundation of Hennepin County Medical Center (HCMC) and Open Your Heart to the Hungry and Homeless announce the Sixth Annual Food Shelf Challenge Grant. Open Your Heart to the Hungry and Homeless will proportionally match donations to the Food Shelf @ HCMC during the month of July, up to $5,000. In 2014, Minnesota food shelves raised over $1,000,000 with this grant and hope to raise even more this year.

“Minnesota summers were made for trips to the cabin, boat rides on the lake, and outings to the farmer’s market – not food shelf visits,” said Suzanne Begin, Vice President of the Hennepin Health Foundation at HCMC. “But that’s the reality for thousands of Minnesotans. Children are home from school and the family budget is tighter. That’s where we hope to fill the gap. Our food shelf provides nutritious food to patients and their families – but it relies on donations to fulfill this need.”

All donations in July will be proportionally matched by Open Your Heart to the Hungry and Homeless to help end hunger in the community.

ThinkstockPhotos-79085585Open Your Heart to the Hungry and Homeless believes this fundraising approach to hunger alleviation is effective because it brings communities together to solve a growing concern across Minnesota. The $150,000 challenge will power a statewide initiative that leverages Open Your Heart funding to bring additional dollars to food shelves and increase awareness of child hunger during the summer. Since 1986, Open Your Heart to the Hungry and Homeless has targeted millions of dollars to strategically fight hunger in Minnesota. Open Your Heart funds the purchase and transfer of more than one million pounds of fresh produce, meat and dairy products every year through Hunger Solutions Minnesota.

Food Shelves Fill Empty Plates Every Summer
Food shelves in Minnesota serve individuals, families and seniors with the
nutritious food they need but cannot afford to purchase on their own.

It is hard to be healthy if you’re hungry, and HCMC has one of the leading national experts in how hunger affects health – pediatrician Diana Cutts. Dr. Cutts tracks rates of food insecurity in the Pediatric Clinic, and finds it affects far more families than people would guess – a little over a third of the families. In a recent Children’s HealthWatch Policy Action Brief that she co-authored, Dr. Cutts introduced data that shows young children in Minnesota families that are food-insecure are at greater risk of poor health, have mothers who are more likely to be in poor health and experience depressive symptoms, and are at a greater risk of being overweight compared to young children in food-secure families.

“It creates a ‘double whammy’ cycle effect where the children are at increased risk of poor health and developmental delays and their mothers are at increased risk for depression and stress,” explains Dr. Cutts, “this makes parenting more difficult, which further increases the risk that a child’s emotional and cognitive development is negatively impacted.”

Summer is especially stressful for both families with children and the food shelves that serve them. In 2014, there were 313,000 summer food shelf visits by children – a 10% increase over 2013.

The Food Shelf @ HCMC, one of the few food shelves in the nation located in a hospital setting, provides a nutritious food bag to its patients and their families when they come for health visits in over twenty five of HCMC’s hospital-based clinics and six community clinics.

About Hennepin County Medical Center
Hennepin County Medical Center is a nationally recognized Level I Adult Trauma Center and Level 1 Pediatric Trauma Center with the largest emergency department in Minnesota. The comprehensive academic medical center and public teaching hospital includes a 462-bed acute care hospital with primary care and specialty clinics located in downtown Minneapolis and throughout the Twin Cities area. For more information: or follow @HennepinMedical on Twitter.

About Open Your Heart to the Hungry and Homeless
Open Your Heart to the Hungry and Homeless has 29 years of experience as the only grant provider in Minnesota focused solely on alleviating hunger and homelessness. Open Your Heart helps food and shelter providers of all sizes get the resources they need to serve more people, including mattresses, freezers, fresh produce and roof repairs. They also support homeless students by providing school supplies, activity fees, gym shoes, tutoring materials and other essentials that help them engage fully in school.  For more information:

About Hunger Solutions Minnesota
Hunger Solutions Minnesota administers the Summer Food Shelf Challenge Grant. Hunger Solutions Minnesota works to end hunger via the Minnesota Food HelpLine and by advancing fair public nutrition policies on behalf of hungry Minnesotans. Hunger Solutions connects food shelves with funding and technical assistance to support the 9,000 daily food shelf visits. For more information visit: or follow @hungersolutions on Twitter.