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Second Harvest Food Bank "It Takes Us All" Events Promote Health, Reduce Hunger, Build Community

Second Harvest North Central Food Bank Executive Director Sue Estee visited the KAXE studio to discuss community engagement events September 21st in Walker and October 5th in Mora.

Second Harvest North Central Food Bank is hosting events around northern Minnesota as part of their "It Takes Us All" campaign. The organization's Executive Director, Sue Estee, recently stopped by the KAXE studio to tell Scott Hall and John Latimer about these events and explain why bringing together communities to end hunger is more important now than ever. Click the "Listen" player at the top of the page to hear the full conversation. And click here to visit the "It Takes Us All" page on the Second Harvest North Central website.

There are two remaining "It Takes Us All" events, one in Walker, Minn. on September 21st and one in Mora, Minn. on October 5th. "We're trying to bring attention to hunger in the area," Estee said. "We're bringing the community together to talk about how we nourish, connect, and lead in our communities to feed people and then work to end hunger."

"It takes us all. It's not just the food bank, but the community. It takes our partners. It takes our donors. It takes volunteers and advocates to really make a difference for people. This is America. We should be able to this. So working together, we're going to move the needle forward."

A renewed effort to engage community partners has been necessary for Second Harvest. The awareness and support of community food security measures that blossomed during the pandemic has started to wane. "It's getting difficult again," Estee said.

"Thankfully there was a lot of response from the government and from communities, and from corporate funders. There was a lot of food available to meet that incredible crisis that we went through. But now food supplies from the government are going back to pre-pandemic levels and corporate support has dwindled, and the price of food and availability of food has gotten tight."

According to Estee, all those factors create a "perfect storm of unfortunate circumstances that are lessening the supply of food available to meet the need that is increasing as people are trying to stretch their budgets to buy the amount of food the need. People are struggling," she said.

Second Harvest North Central is also innovating in how they work to alleviate hunger in smaller communities. "We distribute food with our delivery trucks all the time, and our pop up pantries which we're doing all over," Estee said. "The pop ups have been crucial to meeting the needs of people who are hungry in our communities. We're bringing food right to the small communities, meeting people where they are eliminating the need for them to drive a long way to get food."

"We're doing about 20 pop up pantries a month," Estee said.

With the perfect storm of factors creating increased need for solutions to end hunger in north-central Minnesota, the "It Takes Us All" events have even more urgency. "I'm excited to get people to our event to come together and learn about hunger and learn about what they can do togethers so we can all work together to end hunger right now for people in our community."

KAXE/KBXE Senior Correspondent
As a mail carrier in rural Grand Rapids, Minn., for 35 years, John Latimer put his own stamp on a career that delivered more than letters. Indeed, while driving the hundred-mile round-trip daily route, he passed the time by observing and recording seasonal changes in nature, learning everything he could about the area’s weather, plants and animals, and becoming the go-to guy who could answer customers’ questions about what they were seeing in the environment.