Food Insecurity: Sabathani Taking Action
Food Distribution Center staff: Tazrae Songany, Grace Warner, Sherri Green, and Gregory Perry.
With the cost of groceries skyrocketing over the past year, many households are struggling to put food on the table.
For 48 years Sabathani’s Food Distribution Center has been the answer to help members of our community make ends meet. “As the Heart of South Minneapolis, we’re proud to help our people build a stronger resilient community,” says Sherri Green, Director of Programs and Services.
What makes Sabathani’s Food Distribution Center unique?
You might have noticed that we’re now calling our food sharing program a “Food Distribution Center” instead of a “food shelf.” Sabathani Food Distribution is more than a food shelf. We’re culturally competent shopping experience. We want our participants to feel good about utilizing this service, removing any barriers to their participation.
That cultural competency extends into every facet of the Food Distribution Center. Green says, “Our food distribution center is a participant-choice food model, meaning you get to ‘shop’ for a wide variety of produce, protein, and hygiene items in a welcoming environment for you and your family. No appointment is needed, and participants come on a first-come first-served basis.”
We also strive to be adaptable as community needs evolve. During the pandemic, the Center shifted to delivering food directly to people’s cars as they’d drive up. Green adds, “We’re proud that the community adapted to the drive-through model and that we were able to stay open during the pandemic and during the uprising that followed the murder of George Floyd.”
Now that we’re getting “back to normal,” the need is growing.
We distributed 90,185 pounds of food in the first three months of 2022, and in the first three months of this year, we distributed 141,731 pounds. That’s a 57% increase in just the last year. Check it out:
Indications pointing to the increase:
One reason might be the adjustment to SNAP benefits. The emergency allotments that boosted SNAP benefits during the COVID-19 pandemic were recently ended nationwide. For those low-income families with SNAP benefits, there is simply less money for groceries.
Meanwhile, the cost of food has increased. According to the USDA, food prices rose by 9.9% in 2022. For anyone who buys groceries, this is probably not news. It’s been a hot topic, and the subject of many memes around the price of eggs.
These increases have been a strain for everyone, but for some more than others.
Some community members have been able to adjust their budget to accommodate the higher costs, but many were already struggling with the cost of food and have been relying on SNAP benefits. So now what are the options now that prices are even higher and SNAP benefits even less?
Food distribution services such as ours are here to help with that immediate need, which may continue to grow as the cost of food is predicted to increase through 2023. At the same time, job wages are not increasing to match the rate of inflation.
How do we respond to the growing need?
Sabathani’s Food Distribution Center has been able to keep up with the demand over the past few months, but it has stretched our resources thin. To ensure that we can sustainably serve the entire community, we’ve recently adjusted access for participants to visit our Food Distribution Center from once a week to once a month.
Longer term, we recognize increasing resource support will be vital. Sabathani depends on funding through government, corporate, and foundation grants. As Sabathani continues to apply for that funding, we’re also developing our communication to support awareness around these issues and to encourage support from individuals.
Some options for you:
Please know our Food Distribution Center is open to the community. Click here for our hours of operation.
If you have the means to support our Food Distribution Center, rather than making donations of food, please consider making a monetary gift. Sabathani has access to wholesale distributors and can make your dollars go further to serve the community. Click here to make a gift today.
To end food insecurity once and for all is a complicated, long-term endeavor. It intertwines with critical issues, such as employment, housing, and healthcare, all of which are impacted by historic systemic inequities.
Food Distribution Centers such as Sabathani’s can serve to provide immediate relief. That vital service is a part of the bigger picture, a community effort, and an evolving consciousness that says yes, everyone deserves access to healthy food.
Do you have ideas for ways our community can better address the issue of food insecurity? Please leave a comment below. We’d love to hear from you.