Updates from The Food Group food access partners at Valley Outreach
“A lot of places in the metro are doing this deep, thoughtful work. . . but we’re still seeing this crazy increase [in food shelf visits] across the board.” – Jessica Hauser, Valley Outreach
Valley Outreach is a longtime partner to The Food Group, sharing many of the values that help build a nourishing food system. Located just east of the metro in Washington County, Valley Outreach is Minnesota’s first SuperShelf, meaning shoppers can choose from an intentional selection of fresh produce, protein, dairy, and culturally connected groceries.
Food shelf visits this spring are looking very different, says Jessica Hauser, Development and Communications Manager at Valley Outreach. Just a few weeks ago, the food shelf served nearly 1000 families in one week, more than double their previous pandemic era average of 350 families each week.
According to recent data from Hunger Solutions, food shelf visits across all of Minnesota have been rising rapidly—well beyond the levels of hunger experienced during the pandemic. This past year, families made 1.9 million more visits to MN food shelves than the year before, marking an unprecedented total of 5.5 million food shelf visits.
Jessica shared about a client who recently visited Valley Outreach, traveling from Rochester, MN, nearly 100 miles away. For this person’s family, Valley Outreach was a reliable and accessible place where they were able to meet the needs of their household.
This is far from a feel-good story, though. Jessica explains, “We were happy to help that family in the moment but it shows there’s a bigger problem system wide in being able to help people get the resources they need.”
When you join The Food Group community, you support our work across the food system, providing access to quality foods to partners, and strengthening systems and resources that make food accessible to everyone. Together we are building reliable food solutions for families statewide.
“We’re really happy to be part of the community in Minnesota working to help address these challenges,” says Jessica. “We’re all in it together.”