In 2008, Second Harvest Heartland, a Twin Cities food bank, partnered with the University of Minnesota Food Industry Center to establish and quantify the missing meals gap: the additional number of meals needed on an annual and sustainable basis to feed every hungry person in the state.
The result of their collaboration was the Missing Meals Study, demonstrating that hungry Minnesotans in need were missing more than 125 million meals on an annual basis.
This initial data, which has been updated recently by a new study entitled Map the Meal Gap from Feeding America, provided a spark to begin conversations on a statewide level about hunger in our state and finding a way to close this gap in missing meals.
As a result of this groundbreaking research, Hunger-Free Minnesota was created in March 2010 when a founding coalition of six food banks, one hunger advocacy organization and the Twin Cities United Way, working collectively across Minnesota, banded together to form a collaboration that would close Minnesota's gap in missing meals. Those organizations are:
You can read more about the founding community partners here.
Four more research studies followed the Missing Meals Study, each one highlighting a different facet of the issue.
The Hunger in America/Minnesota Study (2010) follows the unrelenting rise of hunger in Minnesota as the economy weakens, especially its rise among children. Read the summary.
The Cost/Benefit Hunger Impact Study (2010) quantifies what the effects of hunger are not only on the hungry, but on society as a whole. Read the summary.
The SNAP Access Study (2010) highlights Minnesota's low participation rate in this federal food assistance program. Higher usage could lead to less hunger and huge savings. Read the summary.
The Map the Meal Gap Study (2011) is an update of the original Missing Meals Study, and identifies a gap of 100 million missing meals for the 609,000 hungry Minnesotans in need. Read the summary.
In addition to this powerful research, the Hunger-Free Minnesota campaign has a strategic ally in the Minneapolis office of The Boston Consulting Group (BCG). BCG prepared a business plan for Hunger-Free Minnesota that, for the first, time, quantified an approach to closing the meal gap on three fronts simultaneously:
Working with a statewide coalition of partners from corporations, community organizations, and government-run entities, Hunger-Free Minnesota created a three-year action plan (based on the BCG plan) that has been vetted statewide by more than 500 key stakeholders and organizations. The plan assigns meal values to the accomplishment of its objectives (for example, increasing the number of meals served by the current School Breakfast Program by understanding participation barriers, conducting outreach with key stakeholders and helping schools access supplies necessary to serve breakfast will result in four million more breakfasts being served annually and sustainably).
Hunger-Free Minnesota has until 2015 to close the missing meal gap. To do this, it seeks donations from corporations and foundations that understand the importance of eliminating hunger’s effects in our state.
What if, instead, there were enough meals so the effects of hunger disappeared? That’s what Hunger-Free Minnesota is striving for. It seeks large, game-changing donations; creates requests-for-proposals that align with campaign goals; and awards grants to all four corners of the state so that sustainable change can be made, and felt.