‘National Salvation Army Week’ story series, Part III: Hunger

May 15, 2024

National Salvation Army Week is May 13–19. To celebrate, The Salvation Army Northern Division is publishing stories about some of our most important services to illustrate how your donations and volunteer work are helping us Do the Most Good for people and families in Minnesota and North Dakota. Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz has joined the celebration by officially declaring this week as Salvation Army Week in Minnesota (read the proclamation).   

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

They can look like the short story below, submitted by a Salvation Army Northern Division caseworker:  

One weekday morning, a student came to our food shelf asking for groceries. His mother made him stay home from school to make a trip to The Salvation Army because the family had almost no food in their house. The young man told us, “The only thing we have is cereal, but we have no milk.” We gave the boy a gallon of milk and as many groceries as he could carry home.

Hunger also impacts middle-class families as well – such as Teri, her husband, and their three kids. Since late 2022, the family has received a steady supply of groceries from The Salvation Army in Brooklyn Park, Minn., while Teri has battled cancer. (Watch a video about Teri.) 

“Cancer puts a whole new perspective on your life and how you live it,” said Teri (pictured). “Being able to not worry about food is nice when there are so many other bills to think about. I’m so thankful The Salvation Army is here.” 

Thanks to your gifts, people and families who are hungry know they can rely on The Salvation Army to receive the food they need. The Salvation Army is one of the largest food providers in Minnesota and North Dakota, operating 29 food pantries and 13 hot meal programs that together provide an average of 6,900 meals every day.

Oftentimes, the people who eat at our hot meal programs form permanent friendships. That includes a seven-person group (pictured below) at The Salvation Army in Fergus Falls, Minn., who’ve been breaking bread there together for several years. 

The group includes a married couple, Gary and Lynn, who started coming to The Salvation Army right before the pandemic began. Lynn had retired early from her job as a lab technician because her body was wearing out.

“The lunch program helped get us through until I could start collecting my social security,” Lynn said. “I’ve gotten to know so many nice people here.” (Read a story about this group.)

Gary added with a laugh: “There’s good food here and it helps get us through – but it sure gets a little windy at this table sometimes.”

The Salvation Army also hosts community food distributions, such as the one we hosted April 8 in North Minneapolis (see photos), where hundreds of local residents received free groceries donated during our Annual Food Drive in March. 

Among the food recipients was Tonia, a wife and mother of two who is employed at a local school. The food was a huge help to Tonia because her school was on spring break and she works as a paraprofessional, leaving her with no income for the week. To make matters more difficult, her husband was laid off recently. 

“My husband has been Door Dashing to help keep us going, but sometimes money is really, really tight,” Tonia said. “We appreciate this food so much.”

The Salvation Army is grateful to donors and volunteers like you who make our food pantry and hot meal programs possible. 

"Thank you for your support during National Salvation Army Week and throughout the year," said Lt. Col. E. Randall Polsley, Commander of The Salvation Army Northern Division. 

Help Celebrate National Salvation Army Week by giving a donation or signing up to volunteer

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