IMPACT

Hunger-Free Minnesota To Ensure Every State Resident Has Enough To Eat By 2014

06/12/2011 02:05 pm ET | Updated Aug 12, 2011

Seven years ago, then-Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty said the state could end long-term homelessness by 2010.

It didn't happen. So Hunger-Free Minnesota announced it's decided to tackle a less lofty goal -- making sure every person in the state has enough to eat by 2014, Minnesota Public Radio reported Tuesday.

Rob Zeaske, executive director of Second Harvest Heartland food bank, told MPR hunger is an issue that affects everybody.

"Our children are going to school less ready, they are not staying on healthy development paths. Our seniors are spending more time in hospitals. So for us to move the needle on this problem is a huge priority."

The program calculates that Minnesotans are missing about 100 million meals a year. Hunger-Free Minnesota will increase stock at food shelves by finding new sources such as grocery stores that would otherwise toss food. It also aims to increase participation in food stamps and child nutrition programs.

The number of the state's chronically homeless has nearly doubled since Pawlenty's ambitious statement, according to Wilder Research and MPR.

Mitch Pearlstein, founder and president of the Minneapolis-based conservative think tank Center of the American Experiment, told MPR in a follow-up segment Thursday that Hunger-Free Minnesota's idea is more reasonable.

"There's a tendency for reasons I can't fathom --- I really can't --- for otherwise smart and savvy people to come up with these absurd goals which cannot be achieved," Pearlstein said.

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