Holiday Hunger

1 in 10 people in Minnesota and Western Wisconsin experiences hunger.

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It’s a startling statistic.

With the abundance of food facing us this time of year (holiday parties, cookie baking, potlucks, etc.), it can be easy to forget that there are too many people struggling to put food on the table on a daily basis.

Last week I had the privilege of attending an event at Second Harvest Heartland, a food bank in the Twin Cities.

At the beginning of the event, their Director of Development, Marketing and Communications gave us some background on the organization. Second Harvest is part of Feeding America, the nationwide network of more than 200 food banks. They serve 532,000 people each year, and 33% are under 18 and 10% are over age 60.

Then we took a tour of their 61,000 sq. ft. warehouse. It’s an impressive place!

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They ship 9,800 boxes of food per month from this place and share food with 6 other food banks.

One of the most impressive things I learned on the tour is that 55% of the food Second Harvest distributed last year was fresh. They have been making great strides to get fresh produce out to people who need it. It’s great to know that people aren’t just getting food but good, nutritious food.

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That’s a lot of onions!

After the tour, we participated in a simulation called Hunger 101. We paired up and took on the personas of real people who have struggled with hunger. We were given bios and a budget. Our task was to figure out how to buy food for our family for one day. The simulation was timed to show some of the stress these families feel. Let me tell you, it was hard!

We were able to visit the bank to withdraw money, but our family only had $4 to take out. Then we could visit an office to see if we qualified for food stamps. The family I was part of was just two people and earned “enough” not to qualify for food stamps. That meant we still only had $4 to buy food for the day. Another stop we made was to the local food back where we received some food to help us out. After looking at our shopping list and budget, we went to the grocery store for our food. Due to our limitations with budget, we weren’t able to pick out the most nutritious food and didn’t hit the recommended amount of calories for the day. A really eye-opening experience.

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I’m glad a place like Second Harvest Heartland exists in the Twin Cities to help families in need. They have an impressive operation and their programs are doing great things for the community.

A big part of their success depends on volunteers, so if you’re looking to give back, check them out!

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Turkey Trot 5 Mile Race Recap

It’s not turkey day without a turkey trot! This was my 4th year doing the Turkey Trot 5 mile run in my hometown. I was happy to see the temps were close to 30 the morning of the race – not bad at all for a run.

My parents and I got to the start about 15 minutes before the race started. They made their way to the start line for the 2 mile walk (with the dog) and I headed to the run start. I made my way into the corral and stayed near the front to hopefully avoid a lot of weaving around people.

The strategy worked out pretty well. The road is also wide at the beginning of the course, which helped. I did notice that my pace was a little faster than I was planning since I was moving with the flow of the crowd, but I was feeling good and getting warmed up.

Not long after we started, some snow flurries started falling on us. It was actually really pretty!

As I passed miles 1 and 2, my watch beeped close to the mile markers. At mile 3 I ran passed the mile marker and a little ways away noticed my watch hadn’t beeped yet. I was about 0.1 miles off. It was the same story at mile 4. I was thinking the course was going to be short. As I made my way through the last mile, we rounded the path down near the river and then up by the ice arena where my watch beeped for mile 5 just before crossing the finish line. So things worked out in the end!

I had told my parents that I was expecting to run a 9:30 pace. I ended up keeping up my fast pace from the beginning of the race and ran a 9:16 pace! More than enough for a new 5 mile PR!

I made my way to the food lines at the end and found my parents. With our mini pumpkin pies in hand, we headed back to the car. We were on our way to pick up my grandma and had to stop at a gas station to get some pumpkin spice cappuccino (our new tradition). We ended up stopping at three different gas stations before getting all of the drinks we needed — long story, but worth it!

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The rest of the day was spent relaxing and enjoying the holiday. Hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Did you run a turkey trot?