Northern Division: Serving every county in Minnesota and North Dakota
Officer gives bag of groceries

Nat’l Salvation Army Week, Part I: Hunger

Added on Monday, May 14, 2018

National Salvation Army Week is May 14-20. To celebrate, The Salvation Army Northern Division will publish a special story every weekday of the event. Each story will highlight a topic or service that illustrates how The Salvation Army is Doing the Most Good® in Minnesota and North Dakota. Please help us #FightForGood by volunteering or making a donation.  

What do the frontlines of hunger look like in Minnesota and North Dakota?

They often resemble the story below, submitted by a Salvation Army social worker:

A boy came to our food shelf asking for groceries. His mother had told him to stay home from school and make a trip to The Salvation Army so that his family could eat. The family had almost no food in their house. The young man told us, “The only thing I saw was cereal, but we have no milk.” We gave him as many groceries as he could carry home.

Woman picks out fresh fruitEvery day, The Salvation Army helps hundreds of other people in similarly heartbreaking situations. We are a leader in hunger abatement, operating 24 food shelves and 16 hot meal sites in Minnesota and North Dakota.

These food programs are a blessing to people like Trish in southern Minnesota. Every so often, she has no choice but to visit her local Salvation Army food shelf (watch video).

“If it wasn’t for The Salvation Army, there’s many nights my kids would have gone hungry,” she said.

In a recent in-house survey, The Salvation Army discovered that just over 40 percent of the people our food shelves serve are children ages 17 and under.

A woman named Mable picks out groceriesSenior citizens appreciate The Salvation Army, too. We often hold free “food fairs” at low-income housing facilities for seniors, including Booth Manor, a Salvation Army housing complex in Minneapolis (read story).

“I like the vegetables and fruits,” said a Booth Manor resident named Mable (pictured), while dropping a bundle of bananas, greens, and other produce into her grocery bag. The 95-year-old retired school teacher appreciates Salvation Army food fairs because she doesn’t always have enough money for all the groceries she needs. She otherwise gets her food at the grocery store down the street.

“I take my walker and go there for exercise,” Mable said with a laugh.

Last year, Salvation Army food programs provided nearly 700,000 hot meals and 82,500 bags of groceries in Minnesota and North Dakota.

How we do it

Salvation Army food programs are fueled by strategic partnerships with grocery stores and bulk suppliers. These partnerships allow The Salvation Army to serve the most amount of people with the least amount of resources. For example:

Pre-made sandwichesRescued food: We connect with local grocery stores that give us overstock items and nearly-expired meats, fruits, veggies, and pre-made foods. These free foods are distributed at our food shelves or used as ingredients for our hot meal programs.

Bulk suppliers: We purchase food from bulk suppliers and receive monster discounts. The savings are so big, we can buy three bags of groceries for every one bag you can buy at your local grocery store using the same amount of money.

Our food programs are also effective because they are tailor-made to fit unique needs. Example: Our food shelf at the Payne Ave. Salvation Army in St. Paul offers coconut milk, baby corn, and other Asian foods to better serve the local Hmong population.

Here are more examples of our tailored approach, plus other interesting food-related stories:

All about the details: Our food shelf in Brainerd, Minn. offers a range of foods that cater to specific needs.

PhilanthroFEED: The Salvation Army in St. Cloud, Minn. has created an innovative program that makes it easy for local businesses to fight hunger.

Three people, three eye-opening food stories: Michael, Angela and Kathy are three people, with three different food needs, and three eye-opening stories.

Medical food shelf: Our food shelf in Duluth, Minn. offers special foods for people with doctor-referred dietary needs.

Support our hunger programs

You can help people without enough food to eat by donating money or giving food at any of our food shelves in the Twin CitiesGreater Minnesota or North Dakota.

A food shelf guest loads groceries into his carIf you choose to donate nonperishables, please also consider giving one or more of the following items, which are typically in high demand but short supply:

  • Peanut butter
  • Hygiene supplies (toothpaste, soap, shampoo, toilet paper)
  • Baby items (diapers, food, formula)
  • Ethnic foods (bamboo shoots, baby corn, rice, coconut milk, tortillas, maize)
  • Special diet (low-sugar, low-sodium, gluten-free)
  • Another option: Donate fresh fruits, veggies, and other perishables. We accept donations of perishable foods if they are given, in person, to a Salvation Army staff member at one of our food shelves. If you’re a gardener, consider growing a row for The Salvation Army as you prepare your plot for the 2018 season.

Join the Fun

To celebrate National Salvation Army Week, we’re hosting nightly trivia May 14-18, aptly named Sal Army Trivia. Are you ready to play? Take a look at our Sal Army Trivia rules so you know what to expect.

Nat’l Salvation Army Week stories

Help celebrate National Salvation Army Week by volunteering or making a donation to support your local community.