Hunger Beat Down: 5,000 drummers sound the alarm about starvation

It’s not so much about the rhythm as the cause.Celebrated Twin Cities percussionist Marv Dahlgren is calling on drummers far and wide to pick up their sticks at 2 p.m. Saturday to communicate a sobering fact: there are at least 925 million starving and malnourished people in the world.In this state, about 10.8 percent of the population falls at or below the poverty line with hunger numbers here doubling over the last five years. “We’re trying to raise awareness,” says Dahlgren, well known as principal percussionist for the Minnesota Orchestra for 48 years before his retirement a few years back. “I just sit at the phone every day and call drummers.”Community Sketchbook focuses on the economic and social challenges facing communities, especially low-income communities and communities of color, and how people are trying to address them. It is made possible by support from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, The Minneapolis Foundation, and some Minneapolis Foundation donor advisors.Community Sketchbook articles may be republished or distributed, in print or online, with credit to MinnPost and the foundations.At least 5,000 drummers from here, around the United States and from other countries as well will join in.Unlike so many others who saw news of widespread famine and crop failure in Africa back in August, Dahlgren took up hunger as his cause, enlisting drummer friends including the notable David Stanoch, who has played with some of the best musicians around the world.”I’m concerned that the world is not paying enough attention,” Dahlgren says, 87 years old and still teaching music at McNally Smith College of Music in St. Paul and at Augsburg College in Minneapolis. Continue Reading

Dog Days at the Dome will help hungry pets this Thursday

Dog-lovers and their canine friends can get together this Thursday at the Metrodome to socialize, sniff and help hungry pets in need. 
The winter’s last Dog Days at the Dome event will be held March 4 from 5 to 9 p.m. Organized by Podium Sports Marketing, this is a monthly get-together in which people bring their dogs to run and play off-leash in the Metrodome concourse. The entry cost is only $1 per dog, though The Pet Project will be accepting pet food donations for its food shelf drive. The Twin Cities-based nonprofit seeks to keep people with their pets by providing financially struggling owners with food, basic supplies and access to veterinary care. Pet Project founder Kim Carrier said she’s hosting the pet food drive this month so it coincides with Minnesota FoodShare’s annual March Campaign. The campaign’s organizers said the month-long drive raises more than half the food distributed annually at food shelves across the state. Continue Reading

Minnesota food shelves give more, need more this year

Demand at local food shelves skyrocketed in the past year, as more Minnesotans face layoffs and job insecurity. Graph from Hungers Solutions reportVisits to metro area food shelves increased 21 percent in the last year, according to a new report from Hunger Solutions, a hunger relief organization. In Dakota and Carver counties, increases are even more alarming, at 70 percent and 66 percent respectively. At the same time, only about 69 percent of eligible Minnesota residents receive food stamp benefits. “It’s pretty staggering,” Jon Guy, of hunger relief organization Second Harvest Heartland, said. Continue Reading

Feeding seniors in tough times

Amidst a deepening recession and a frigid Minnesota winter, seniors throughout the state have become increasingly dependent on food assistance programs to ensure food security and proper nutrition. However, given the state’s current financial woes, the future of these programs is far from certain. Food assistance programs play a vital role for Minnesota’s seniors. For one, they promote food-security, ensuring that seniors do not go hungry. However, they often play a more subtle role as well, by ensuring that seniors receive proper nutrition. Continue Reading

Feeding the foodshelves

Since the national unemployment rate has climbed to a staggering 6.5 percent (as high as 8.5 percent in some states), more and more people find themselves below the poverty level. About 50 percent of unemployed people and families are eligible for food support, according to the non-profit MN Hunger Solutions, though many are unaware of these benefits.Putting it all together: Where to find food, where to donate
Food shelves are the bottom line, place of last resort to get a bag of groceries for your family. Many have rules about residence and about the number of times you can come there. Hunger Solutions Minnesota has a complete list, available on-line or by calling them at 651-486-9860. Meals on Wheels delivers hot, meals over the lunch hour Monday through Friday to homebound, elderly and disabled individuals. Continue Reading

Minneapolis food shelves lay bare

At the end of a long hallway at the Brian Coyle Community Center in Minneapolis’ Cedar-Riverside neighborhood, a small room is lined with shelves and a commercial refrigerator. On the shelves, cans of lima beans sit aside boxes of mac’n’cheese and plastic bags of East Indian spices.Every day when the food shelf closes, the metal shelves are bare. The next morning, workers restock them again from a diminishing supply across the hallway. Food shelves have seen a 14 percent increase in visits during the first half of 2008, according to data from Hunger Solutions Minnesota, a statewide hunger relief agency. Since July, when Becky Burand took over responsibility for the Brian Coyle food shelf, she’s seen monthly increases in demand. Continue Reading

Between hunger and a hard place: Food shelves face recession challenges

Tough as times are, it’s harder than ever on the financially challenged. They’d have a harder time still without food shelves. Accordingly, Twin Cities food shelves have become a more vital resource than ever before.Putting it all together: Where to find food, where to donate
Food shelves are the bottom line, place of last resort to get a bag of groceries for your family. Many have rules about residence and about the number of times you can come there. Hunger Solutions Minnesota has a complete list, available on-line or by calling them at 651-486-9860. Continue Reading

Between hunger and a hard place: Food shelves face recession challenges

Tough as times are, it’s harder than ever on the financially challenged. They’d have a harder time still without food shelves. Accordingly, Twin Cities food shelves have become a more vital resource than ever before. The objective is to give a bag of groceries, hopefully including frozen meat, to feed a family at least a couple days. Toward that end food shelves are doing their best to keep the pantry stocked. Continue Reading

VOICES | Survival mode. A plastic toilet paper bag?

So here am I, celebrating an empty nest when I suddenly get all ambitious and clean out my closet from all the clothes on my floor. I wish I could describe to you the sheer magnitude of stuff I hauled out of there. Stuff I forgot I had and how the closet space, according to the laws of physics, could not possibly have held all that in it. Then I found a curious plastic toilet paper bag. It had one roll of paper left in it, and a can of tuna. Continue Reading