Northern Division: Serving every county in Minnesota and North Dakota
Young booy takes monster-sized bite of hot dog

Blog: From food to thought

Added on Thursday, June 6, 2013

Written by Kelsey Mattison, Assistant Development Director at The Salvation Army Northern Division.

The other day, I met two of my friends at The Original Pancake House in Maple Grove.  As we finished our plates of bacon-stuffed omelets, syrup-soaked pancakes, and mugs overflowing with black coffee (because there is no other way to drink it) our focused transitioned from food to thought.

To an eavesdropper, I am sure our conversation was not ‘juicy’ or dripping with gossip – I don’t even think the words Twins or golf were mentioned, which is odd for me.  The discussion was, however, one filled with passion and commitment to the community.

Sitting across from two Twin Cities youth pastors, a question was asked that caused me to pause … “What is the current trend of youth need in the Twin Cities?”

Youth need is not foreign to The Salvation Army.  During summer months, food shelves typically see an increased spike – not in donations – but in need.  The trend provides a unique perspective about the additional benefits of school.  Lunch and breakfast programs often provide relief and a blessing to a family’s food budget.

Responding to this trend, on June 3 The Salvation Army opened three youth-only food shelves in Ramsey County.  “The initial response was well received,” said Captain John Joyner, leader at the St. Paul Payne Ave. Salvation Army.  “Things seem to flow well.  I think this is going to be a good thing.”

A summer spike at Salvation Army food shelves is not the only trend I have seen.  According to the results of a Wilder Research study in 2012, 172 young adults were homeless in Ramsey County during the survey period while only 27 shelter beds exist for youth.  Amazingly, The Salvation Army’s Booth Brown House provides 11 of these 27 beds – that’s 41 percent of the total beds available. Due to the shortage, the waiting list at Booth Brown House continues to grow.

As we analyze the trends and look forward to the next five, ten and even twenty years down the road, we will continue to answer the tough questions with actions … but, we can’t do it alone.

My question is … How do we work together to create the solution?