Minnesota FoodShare, a Response to Hunger
March 12, 2012
Filed under News
In an excerpt from his book, Where Do We Go From Here: Chaos or Community?, Dr. Martin Luther King calls upon us to eradicate poverty both nationally and globally. He refers to poverty as being “like a monstrous octopus, stretching its choking, prehensile tentacles into lands and villages all over the world.” He goes on to say, “There is nothing new about poverty. What is new, however, is that we now have the resources to get rid of it.” This work was published in 1968.
Sadly, 44 years later, the “octopus” continues to choke our society. In Minnesota alone 544,000 people live in poverty. As a consequence, more people are using food shelves to meet nutritional needs and help mitigate the effects of poverty. According to the American Community Survey, the poverty rate in St Louis Park is estimated to be 8.4% (or 3,713 people). It was 5.2% in 2000 (or 2,294 people). This is an increase in the poverty rate of 1,418 people, or +61.8%. In 2011, 4,163 St. Louis Park residents were served at STEP with food.
As a kid growing up in a small town in Iowa, my family was personally affected by living in poverty. While my parents both worked, there was never enough money, and many times we fell short on food. What sticks with me most was not the lack of food but the shame I felt being poor.
Food shelves did not exist then, at least not in rural Iowa. The local grocery store allowed my mother to charge groceries when we needed them. I was often sent to pick up a gallon of milk, a box of cereal, a loaf of bread or even an occasional candy bar. I didn’t really give a lot of thought to asking the owner to charge it on my mother’s bill. Until one day she said in front of group of shoppers, “Your bill is too high. Your mom has not paid in months. I can’t let you charge anymore.” As a 10 year old, I was mortified. I ran home crying, and did not set foot in that store ever again.
As a society we still have a long way to go to rein in this “poverty octopus”. However, we have made strides in how we respond to those who don’t have enough food.
Each March, the annual Minnesota Food Share campaign focuses on stocking the shelves across the state of Minnesota. During this month, STEP is able to get matching funds from MN Food Share. In addition, all monetary donations designated to the STEP food shelf during March and April will be matched by the Feinstein Foundation challenge.
STEP has a goal to exceed 110,000 pounds/dollars raised with this 2012 campaign. With your support we can meet this goal and fill people with hope not shame. Together we can hinder the “poverty octopus.”
–Julie Lapointe, STEP Program Manager