One of the unique aspects of the Hunger-Free Minnesota campaign is that it is implementing a data-driven action plan that defines success by the number of additional meals delivered.
To create this plan, Hunger-Free Minnesota hired The Boston Consulting Group (BCG), a global leader in providing strategic and operational solutions to corporate and not-for-profit organizations, to determine if there were sufficient strategies and food to provide an additional 100 million meals annually and sustainably, thereby closing Minnesota's meal gap.
BCG’s research showed that there were, indeed, enough existing programs, ideas, food and strategies to add 100 million meals, annually and sustainably, to feed Minnesota’s citizens in need. Using that research, Hunger-Free Minnesota created a comprehensive three-year plan containing multiple initiatives that could shrink Minnesota’s 100 million missing meal gap to zero.
Hunger-Free Minnesota is focused on eight high-impact initiatives.
Emergency Food System
Initiative description: Capture surplus agricultural crops from growers on a commercial scale and deliver this food to local food shelves/meal programs for distribution to Minnesotans in need.
What’s the challenge? Acquiring surplus agricultural crops for donation on such a large scale is new in Minnesota, and has several barriers to overcome:
- Lack of awareness of donation opportunities
- Limited resources to provide incentives to growers
- Implementing supply chain logistics in an efficient and cost-effective manner
- Absorption of fresh foods by local food shelves and meal programs for distribution
The plan: Systematically boost agricultural surplus donation by
- Building awareness and relationships with growers
- Developing incentives that will motivate growers to donate surplus crops
- Implementing transportation logistics in an efficient and cost-effective manner
- Increasing capacity of local food shelves and meal programs to absorb and distribute surplus to people in need
Retail Food Rescue
Capture “not-perfect” food (such as produce, meat, dairy, etc.) from local grocery stores and deliver this perishable food to local food shelves/meal programs for distribution to Minnesotans in need.
What’s the challenge? Successful retail food rescue models exists and are working on a localized basis. The challenge is building scale by expanding the model to additional grocers and retailers statewide.
The plan: Expand retail food rescue opportunities statewide by
- Increasing donations from current retailer partners
- Identifying gaps in statewide coverage
- Piloting new programs to fill geographic gaps
- Piloting new programs to fill gaps with other types of retailers, such as convenience stores and independent grocers
Prepared Food Rescue
Capture food not used by local restaurants, caterers, and food service programs (hospitals, colleges, etc.) and deliver this ready-to-eat food to local food shelves/meal programs for distribution to Minnesotans in need.
What’s the challenge? A few Minnesota communities have prepared food rescue programs, but other locations in Minnesota, including the Twin Cities metropolitan area, do not. How can prepared food rescue programs be built in the Twin Cities and other locations statewide?
The plan: Expand prepared food rescue’s reach by
- Creating pilot programs with corporate partners
- Establishing safety protocols
- Identifying new potential donors
- Investing in infrastructure as needed - including information technology
Closing community meal gaps normally can't be accomplished by one part of the system alone. A combination of increased food shelf / meal program services, other non-profits and government - and school - based programs provide the most efficient approach.
What’s the challenge? For the most part, food shelves, meal programs, and other services operate independently, each with its own unique operational and capacity challenges. In addition, there are few places they can go for advice or to access statewide best practices. Within a decentralized network, how do we work collectively to address missing meals on a community-by-community basis? And how can an organization or community prioritize new efforts?
The plan: Funding efforts and grant RFPs will focus on big-picture solutions such as
- Analyzing and mapping statewide emergency food system needs
- Creating flexible templates for capacity planning and execution
- Fostering integrated community-level strategies with meal goal targets.
Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)
Customer Marketing Campaign
Create a marketing campaign that increases awareness of and reduces the stigma associated with SNAP
among hungry Minnesotans who qualify for the program.
What’s the challenge? Many eligible groups of hungry Minnesotans, including seniors, the newly unemployed and the working poor, are not enrolled in SNAP. Reasons for non-enrollment include lack of awareness and stigma.
The plan: Create a comprehensive, multi-media awareness campaign by
- Partnering with local corporations to create marketing campaign plan, materials, media plan
- Coordinating with Minnesota Department of Human Services (DHS) to obtain USDA matching SNAP outreach reimbursement funds for marketing campaign
- Selecting partner - Hunger Solutions - to implement campaign statewide
- Evaluating campaign success and measuring progress toward meal goals
Improve WIC Participation
Increase usage of the federally funded WIC
program for infants and pre-K children.
What’s the challenge? Enrollment in the program is higher for infants and children less than age two, but program retention is an issue after that, even though children are eligible through age five.
The plan: Understand barriers, then work to reduce them by
- Partnering with the Minnesota Department of Health to research barriers to participation and retention
- Creating and executing marketing strategy and communications to increase WIC usage, amplifying the Minnesota Department of Health plan
Increase School Breakfast Participation
Increase usage of the federally funded School Breakfast Program in higher-need school districts.
What’s the challenge? Low usage of free and reduced-cost meals from the School Breakfast Program is widespread across Minnesota school districts. Overall usage is only 34 percent.
The plan: Increase number of meals served by current School Breakfast Programs by
Gaining a better understanding of participation barriers
Conducting outreach with key stakeholders, such as the Minnesota Department of Education, USDA Food & Nutrition Service, school administrators, superintendents, food service and nutrition directors
Launching a grant fund to help schools purchase capital equipment, marketing materials, other supplies necessary to offer breakfast
Enroll Child After-School Programs in Meal, Snack Programs
Increase usage by after-school programs of the federally funded CACFP
After-School Meal Program and the After-School Snack Program (part of the National School Lunch Program).
What’s the Challenge? The CACFP (Child and Adult Care Food Program) After-School Meal Program is new to Minnesota, creating a need to build demand and enrollment from scratch. The After-School Snack Program has very low enrollment. Both are reimbursement programs.
The plan: Raise awareness and facilitate program applications by
- Coordinating with USDA, Minnesota Department of Education, existing application materials
- Conducting outreach to eligible school districts
- Establishing application assistance phone bank
- Identifying potential program participants, creating materials to reach them