Northern Division: Serving every county in Minnesota and North Dakota
Homeless man holding sign that says "Food for Thought"

How we’re helping the hungry

Added on Monday, February 11, 2013

Question: The Twin Cities Salvation Army serves 2,500 meals and shelters 970 people every: month, week or day?

Answer: day.

Yes, every day. And that’s just in the Twin Cities. When you factor in all the other food and shelter programs we operate in Greater Minnesota and North Dakota, those numbers climb even higher.

Providing food and shelter is a job we take seriously. To that end, we continuously search for new and innovative ways of serving – just like how top corporations invest in research and development to offer better products.

Here are several examples of how our 33 food shelves in Minnesota and North Dakota are using innovative measures to do the most good for people who are hungry.

Budgeting: Our food shelf in Hibbing, Minn., is promoting self-sufficiency by requiring newcomers to attend a budgeting class before they can receive food. One guest was amazed at how much farther his $20 could go in a grocery store vs. ordering a pizza.

Shopping: Several of our food shelves allow visitors to choose their food instead of taking what they’re given. This model eliminates waste and ensures that guests receive only the food they truly need and will use.

Ethnic Foods: Some of our food shelves in diverse neighborhoods offer culturally-specific foods. Our food shelf on Payne Ave. in St. Paul, for example, offers coconut, baby corn and other Asian foods for the local Hmong population because their stomachs won’t accept some American foods. You can help by joining forces with the local stores and restaurants that donate ethnic foods.

Wish list (Asian food): rice, bamboo shoots, canned vegetables including straw mushrooms and baby corn, dry noodles including pink bean thread, vermicelli, rice stick and Asian ramen.

Wish list (Hispanic food): rice, maseca flour, cooking oil, canned vegetables, canned fruit, canned jalapenos and other peppers, salsa, hot sauce.

Farmers’ Markets: Ever grow your own garden and end up with more tomatoes than you can use? You’re not alone. During the growing season we receive all kinds of donations from growers who want to share their abundance. These fresh fruits and vegetables are a real treat for people who rely on our programs.

Day-Old Food Distributions: Generous local grocers and restaurants give us thousands of pounds of food that can’t be sold, but is still good to eat. Every Friday at our food shelf on W. 7th St. in St. Paul, for example, hundreds of people come for fresh fruits, veggies and bread. In 2012, this program alone distributed more than 375,000 pounds of food to nearly 9,200 households.

No Junk Food: In the Twin Cities, all the food we buy from vendors is monitored for its nutrition value. This ensures that our food shelf visitors only receive food that is good for them. We monitor the value based on a nutrition assessment guide provided by United Way.

Food Stamp Application Assistance: Sometimes food shelves just aren’t enough. Most of our food shelf locations include social services staff who can provide a pre-screening for Federal Food Support Programs. Simply stop by to request help. Once we determine if you meet the eligibility requirements, we can help you file an application for benefits.