Monday, November 27, 2023

Second Harvest Heartland Food Bank

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Second Harvest Heartland, KARE 11 partner for ‘Day of Giving’

Second Harvest Heartland is a food bank and so much more, with team members serving in roles from volunteer leaders and operations staff to business analysts and external relations coordinators. We also offer positions involved with the programs and policies that work to end hunger, such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program or child nutrition.

Responding To Community Need

At Second Harvest Heartland, we fight to end hunger every day. We do that by working within a network of 388 food shelves and nearly 1,000 partner programs throughout Minnesota and western Wisconsin that provide food directly to families who need it. We listen closely to our trusted partners and collaborate with them because they know how best to support their neighbors facing hunger.

Listening and collaboration have been more important than ever this past year. From supply chain backups to staffing shortages, food shelves and meal programs faced consistent and unpredictable challenges, all while working tirelessly to serve new and increased numbers of neighbors. With your support, we brought stability to the hunger-relief network during a year rife with challenges by:

Removing Barriers To Meals Through Minnesota Central Kitchen

Between wrangling her three young kids, studying full-time to become a registered nurse, and working as a certified nursing assistant, the last thing Nansi has much time or energy for is getting dinner ready.

At least on Tuesdays, thats not something she needs to worry about because thanks to Minnesota Central Kitchen, dinners ready. Each week, meals prepared by Café Relish are delivered just across the street to the Jeremiah Program, a residential program that works to disrupt generational poverty for single moms and their children, including Nansi.

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The Direct Link To People Experiencing Hunger

Second Harvest Heartland partners with nearly 1,000 food shelves, soup kitchens, shelters and other programs in Minnesota and western Wisconsin. These agency partners distribute food directly to their communities and into the hands of working families, children and seniors throughout a shared hunger relief network.

What We Aim To Solve

Minnesota food banks say hunger crisis lies ahead

Second Harvest Heartland is one of the largest, most efficient and innovative hunger-relief organizationsin the nation. Working in partnership with a network of nearly 1,000 food shelves and hunger-reliefprograms, Second Harvest Heartland helps the 1 in 8 people, including 1 in 5 kids, in Minnesota andWestern Wisconsin who experience hunger.On average, 77 percent of food our partner agencies distribute comes from Second Harvest Heartland.In 2019, Second Harvest Heartland helped provide a record 97 million meals to more than a half-millionpeople.Fighting hunger in the heartland for more than three decades, Second Harvest Heartland will continueto leverage its unique position in the emergency food chain to advocate, educate and provide food untileveryone in its 59-county service area has what they need to thrive

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Join Our Team And Use Your Skills To Create Change

When you work at Second Harvest Heartland, youre working to end hunger. As one of the countrys largest and most innovative food banks, we deliver food and solutions to our neighbors facing hunger. From truck drivers and forklift operators to volunteer leaders and program staff, our team is on a mission to end hunger in our region.

Second Harvest Heartlands Role In The Network

Second Harvest Heartland plays many roles in the hunger relief network.

Nutritious Food

Our primary function is to provide food to agency partners so they can distribute needed meals directly to their communities. We source donations and purchase many varieties of foods to do our best to meet the nutritional needs of the communities we all serve. Our size and partnership with Feeding America allow us to access large quantities of foods from diverse sources and provide them to agency partners at a low cost. Second Harvest Heartland also manages the distribution of free government commodities to eligible programs.


Approximately 96% of donations received by Second Harvest Heartland go directly into programming and services. Much of the funds we secure are used to purchase food, maintain the delivery and Food Rescue trucks, transport incoming food and store food. The cost of food is heavily subsidized by our fundraising efforts. For example, in 2019 our cost per pound was 23 cents and agencies share of the cost was less than 2 cents per pound .


As one of the regions largest hunger relief organizations, we use our size and reputation to advocate at the state and national level for legislation and funding that benefits the networks efforts to end hunger.

Capacity and Network Building


Need help? Contact the Agency Service Desk at or 651.209.7990

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H Heartland Takes On Racial Equity With $132m Investment

Second Harvest Heartland of Minnesota announced last week that it would invest $13.2 million into smoothing out racial disparities in the way it distributes food, partly by making food more accessible and appealing to communities of color.

The commitment, which will roll out over five years, covers a wide breadth of activities, including sourcing culturally specific foods and providing support to businesses run by black, indigenous and people of color . The funding will also go toward improving access to federal benefits like SNAP, as well as research aimed at better understanding which communities need the most help.

The multi-pronged initiative stems from a growing understanding of the deep racial inequities that exist throughout the country in the way charitable food is distributed. Despite the overall success of a massive effort to feed people during the pandemic, Feeding America has found that Blacks were 3.2 times more likely and Latinos 2.5 times more likely than whites to experience food insecurity in 2020.

Second Harvest Heartland also faces the particular need to lean into the challenge of operating in the community where George Floyd was murdered. There is no better time to be bold than right now here in Minnesota, said Allison OToole, CEO of Second Harvest Heartland, one of the nations largest food banks, with $237 million of revenues in 2020.

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An Interview With Martita Mestey

Second Harvest Heartland Prepares for âHunger Surgeâ?

Our mission at Second Harvest Heartland is to end hunger together. As a food bank, one of the largest in the country, we source and distribute more than 120 million pounds of food each year, supplying 388 community food shelves with the fresh food and pantry staples, so their neighbors can shop for the nutrition they need. In total, we provide more than 85% of the food they distribute.

In many parts of the United States, there is a crisis of people having limited reliable access to a sufficient quantity of affordable, nutritious food. As prices rise, this problem will likely become more acute. How can this problem be solved? Who are the leaders helping to address this crisis?

In this interview series, we are talking to leaders who are helping to address the increasing problem of food insecurity who can share the initiatives they are leading to address and solve this problem.

As a part of this series, we had the pleasure of interviewing Allison OToole.

Allison OToole is CEO of Second Harvest Heartland, one of the largest, most efficient, and most innovative hunger relief organizations in the nation. In close partnership with a network of 388 food shelves and nearly 1,000 partner programs, Second Harvest Heartland supports people in Minnesota and western Wisconsin facing hunger.

Are you able to identify a tipping point in your career when you started to see success? Did you start doing anything different? Are there takeaways or lessons that others can learn from that?

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Food Bank Ceo Of The Year: Allison Otoole Of Second Harvest Heartland

On March 17 only one day after the governor ordered all bars and restaurants temporarily closed in Minnesota due to the pandemic Second Harvest Heartland launched Minnesota Central Kitchen, its ambitious effort to keep local restaurants in business by tapping their kitchens, food and employees to feed the

No Kitchen No Problem Food Banks Embrace Meal Prep Anyway

Second Harvest Heartland of Minnesota and others are proving that a food bank does not necessarily need a kitchen to play a major role in distributing thousands of freshly prepared meals. Using Feeding Americas MealConnect platform, Second Harvest Heartland is sourcing large donations of bulk food and guiding it toward

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Finding Family Stability With Snap

Elizabeth was having trouble making ends meet. She worked full-time but with two growing kids, the budget math never seemed to work out in her favor. She wondered if the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, might be the solution, but she wasnt sure if her family would qualify for the government program.

Only three-quarters of Minnesotans who are eligible for SNAP participate. That means thousands of our neighbors qualify for grocery help they arent receiving.

Enter Second Harvest Heartlands SNAP Outreach Specialists, who reach out and respond to folks like Elizabeth, helping screen for eligibility and assist with applications.

Free Food Distribution Offered Through Second Harvest Heartland Food Bank

Second Harvest Heartland: Mapping Food Insecurity with Big Data ...


Mankato, MN A free food distribution for those in need of food or newly struggling to make ends meet due to the COVID-19 crisis is being held Saturday, January 23 from 11:00 to 1:00 p.m. at Prairie Winds Middle School. 1200 Prairie Winds Drive, Mankato, Minnesota. The event is being hosted by Open Door Health Center and Minnesota Valley Action Council and is being funded by Second Harvest Heartland Food Bank.

More funds have been allocated to the United States Department of Agriculture . These funds will allow the food distribution events to continue through April 2021. The program provides vital assistance to producers of agricultural commodities and channels food to food banks, community, tribal, and faith-based organizations, and other non-profits serving Americans in need.

This is a resource for the whole community and especially for those needing a little extra help right now, said Jayme Enamorado, Community Outreach Manager at Open Door Health Center. If you are one of the many experiencing unexpected hardship due to the coronavirus crisis you are most welcome to participate in this program, she said.

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Plugging Into Healthcare Pays Off For Minn Food Bank

The healthcare system may be vast and complicated, but finding a way to work within it can supercharge a food banks ability to ease food insecurity. Second Harvest Heartland, the countrys seventh-largest food bank and the largest in Minnesota, has succeeded in integrating itself into the states healthcare

Welcome To Agency Zone

This website is your agencys portal to Second Harvest Heartland. We are so proud to support you in your work in ending hunger. By bringing local communities and neighborhoods together to increase food security in urban, suburban and rural areas throughout Central and Southwestern Minnesota and Western Wisconsin you accomplish great things. Your dedicated staffs and volunteers are the life-blood of the hunger relief network. Second Harvest could not accomplish its mission to end hunger without your partnership and hard work.

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Our Mission: End Hunger Together

We focus on strong results, innovation and thought leadership to accomplish the following:

  • Create a sustainable support system that provides access to food.
  • Find new, more efficient and more effective, ways to do more with the food resources in our community.
  • Tap into new sources of donated food including fresh, nutritious produce from an ever-expanding network of growers, food manufacturers and processors.
  • Work to give more people greater access to food as well as improve support for the people were currently serving.

Innovative Food Rescue Efforts Allow Food Bank To Give Away Fresh Food

Hy Vee Donates 5,500 Hams to Second Harvest Heartland in Brooklyn Park

By Shannon Prather Order Reprint

Truckloads of surplus oranges destined for the trash in California are now making their way to homes of needy families in the Twin Cities.

Fresh potatoes left to rot in Minnesota farm fields are now being harvested and given to hungry families. Unsold fruit and vegetables, bakery items and even meat that local grocers toss from their shelves are being picked up and redistributed to needy neighbors.

Its called food rescue, and Twin Cities-based Second Harvest Heartland food bank is a national leader in the movement.

Nearly half the 97 million pounds of food that Second Harvest gives away each year is fresh. Increasingly, reliance on canned goods and boxed foods is a thing of the past.

Its a radical change, said Second Harvest CEO Rob Zeaske.

The organizations staff, many with vast corporate experience, are scouring every point of the nations food supply chain from growers, processors, grocers and even restaurateurs. The goal is to identify possible inefficiency and wastefulness, and then persuade businesses to donate.

Its an assault to our sensibilities in Minnesota to throw away food, said April Rog, Second Harvest director of food rescue. Businesses know its just the right thing to do.

The result is healthier, fresher food for Minnesotas most needy families. The organization also participates in a Midwest regional produce cooperative with food banks in seven states.

Delivering on those promises

The right thing to do

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Working Together Toward A Shared Mission

Food shelves and other agency partners bring local communities and neighborhoods together to increase food security in urban, suburban and rural areas within a 59-county service area. Agency partners and their dedicated staffs and volunteers are the life-blood of the hunger relief network. Second Harvest could not accomplish its mission to end hunger without their partnership and hard work. To learn more about the many agencies in the hunger relief network working to end hunger in their communities, see our Agency Partners List.

You Made All The Difference

Looking back on this past year, I find myself emboldened by a tough realitymore people than ever before are paying attention to hunger. Im also hopeful.

Heres the tough part: With more families than ever needing help, the pervasiveness of hunger has become undeniable. Heres the hope-filled part: This heightened awareness and our stepped-up efforts have made it easier for our neighbors to reach out for help when they need it. I feel more hopeful than ever that were on a path toward real change as we scrutinize and tackle stigma and ask ourselves why there should be any shame in dealing with tough times with one anothers help, rather than on our own.

We wouldnt be hopeful without you. Without your willingness to stick with us or join us when weve needed you most, we could never have provided more than 107 million meals to our community last year. On behalf of our team, our partners and this network, thank you.

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Join Us In Ending Hunger Together: Volunteer

Second Harvest Heartland volunteers play a critical role in the fight to end hunger. Sign up for a shift to assist with packing food today to help fuel our hunger fight and bring efficiency to the hunger relief network. Volunteer shifts are available Monday through Saturday at our Brooklyn Park facility. Want to do more? We have ongoing volunteer opportunities as well.

Cold Clean Room Paves Way For More Meat Donations

Second Harvest Heartland Receives Morgan Stanley Grant To Expand ...

Second Harvest Heartland is prepared to greatly increase the amount of meat it can accept and distribute, thanks to a temperature-controlled clean room it opened this summer.

The cold clean room lets the food bank accept larger quantities of bulk meat donations by ensuring the safety and hygiene of the meat during handling. Second Harvest Heartland expects it will be able to increase the amount of meat it sources to 9 million pounds in 2023, up from a projected 5.4 million pounds in 2021.

The Minneapolis-based food bank joins a small group of food banks, also based in the Midwest, that already have cold clean rooms. These include Arkansas Food Bank Omaha-based Food Bank for the Heartland Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma Kansas City-based Harvesters The Community Food Network, and Houston Food Bank.

Cold clean rooms help food banks meet clients ever-persistent demand for meat, while also fulfilling the food safety and temperature requirements for storing, repacking and shipping meat.

Second Harvest Heartland previously had to limit the amount of bulk meat it accepted because only its on-site meal programs could handle large-sized bulk quantities. In the clean rooms, volunteers can now pack ready-to-eat foods into sizes appropriate for distribution to food pantries and other meal programs, making the high-demand foods much more accessible.

Maura Keller is a Minneapolis-based freelance writer and editor.

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Food Banks Tackle Inequity In Food Access

Although Good Shepherd Food Bank has long served diverse communities across Maine, it wasnt until Covid-19 hit that the organization realized how much variety there was in the food its clients wanted and how little of that variety it provided. The problem became apparent when fears about how the

We Are A Food Bank And More

At Second Harvest Heartland, we work to end hunger through community partnerships. As one of the nations largest, most efficient and most innovative hunger relief organizations, we leverage our unique position in the emergency food chain to make an impact.

Food Sources & Donors

Children, parents and seniors have access to food.

A member of Feeding America

Second Harvest Heartland is a member of Feeding Americathe nationwide network of more than 200 food banks serving every state in the United States. This partnership helps to significantly amplify the organizations impact and reach by providing access to millions of pounds of surplus food and grocery donations.

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