Every Meal: 2021 January Social Action Highlight


Every Meal

Many of us don’t realize that food disparities — hunger and food insecurities — exist in our own communities. “People struggle with hunger in every county and congressional district in Minnesota,” Feeding America states. Food insecurity refers to the USDA’s measure of lack of access, at times, to enough food for an active, healthy life for all household members. The hungry or food insecure can be our neighbors, kids in our children’s or grandchildren’s classes, our friends, and even members of our WBUUC church community.

Hunger and food insecurity affect children the hardest. In the middle of this pandemic, the increase in food insecurity is unprecedented among children and if projections are correct, could be the highest level since measurement of food insecurity began in 1996.1 Learning is nearly impossible when you haven’t had enough to eat. In pre-pandemic times, some children had two daily meals provided to them in school but finding food to eat on weekends was extremely difficult. In pandemic times, the lack of meals at school changed the picture significantly for the worse. All meals suddenly were difficult to acquire.

In the fall of 2010, the administration at Sheridan Elementary in Minneapolis saw children hoarding food on Fridays to take home for the weekend. When the staff realized why, they stated, “Our students are hungry, and we have to do something about it.” Every Meal stepped up to address this issue. Every Meal (formerly The Sheridan Story) is a project designed to fight child hunger by providing school children food to take home for the weekend. That time now includes summers, extended breaks and COVID school closures.

Though started as a weekend food distribution system, the COVID-19 pandemic changed things for Every Meal. Since March of 2020, Every Meal was forced to switch its distribution network since many Minnesota children were not in school full time. That’s when the network expanded to include distribution at libraries, YMCAs, parks, community buildings and fire stations. Food now goes to children in 31 Minnesota school districts with more than 200,000 meals distributed every month.

 When Every Meal realized there were hungry children everywhere, their legacy began. Now, ten years after its inception, Every Meal has served more than 10,000 children throughout Minnesota, supplying 300 locations with 6 million meals. A strong legacy, indeed.

1 Coleman-Jensen, A., et al. (2019). Household Food Security in the United States in 2018. U.S. Department of Agriculture Economic Research Service.