Insight News

Feb 08th

Forging partnership to better serve the Latino community

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snapRelationships. Connections. Partnerships. These are vital to serving Minnesotans in need. At the Minnesota Department of Human Services, we know who needs help and what resources are available to them. At Neighborhood House, we know how to connect directly with them and how to best serve them. In partnership, we are reaching out to the Latino community to serve low-income individuals and families who may qualify for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).

Working together, our goal is to ensure that Latinos are able to put nutritious food on their tables each day. Unfortunately, we know there is room for improvement. Currently, low-income Latino households across the nation have higher rates of food insecurity and lower rates of participation in nutrition programs, according to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).In Minnesota, only around 4 percent of adults receiving SNAP are Latino despite data that shows the latest poverty rate for Minnesota Latinos at 25 percent, compared to 12 percent for all Minnesotans.

We want to change that. Nationwide, the USDA is reaching out to the often underserved Latino community through its La Mesa Completa program, which provides tools to help communities connect with Latinos in need. Using a bonus from the USDA, our state is also increasing its outreach to the Latino community.

The Department of Human Services recently awarded a $20,000 grant to Neighborhood House to hire a Spanish-speaking family worker to connect directly with low-income Latino families in the St. Paul area to provide information, and help them apply for SNAP and other food support program benefits. By pairing DHS' program, funding, technical assistance and training with Neighborhood House's reputation, connections to the Latino community and designated family worker to serve Latinos, we can develop those vital relationships and help those in need.

Through another partnership with the University of Minnesota Extension's Simply Good Eating program, Neighborhood House will also provide nutrition education classes that focus on stretching food dollars, making healthy choices and being physically active.

Together, we will help end food insecurity, and provide Minnesotans with the very basic resources they need to put healthy food on their tables daily. Given that SNAP is a supplemental assistance program, we know it won't provide for all the food individuals need, but it will help. With SNAP, food shelves and other resources, individuals and families can get back on their feet, find or expand their work, stabilize their lives and become self-supporting.

Not only will this benefit the Latino community but it will help our farmers and grocers. For every dollar in new SNAP benefits spent, $1.73 in economic activity is generated. That's good for all of us.

To expand its connections, Neighborhood House also recently accepted a grant from Hunger-Free Minnesota to hire a full-time family worker focusing on reaching the Hmong community to help people enroll in food subsidy programs they may qualify for, such as SNAP. This combined with DHS's contributions, will help both the Hmong and Latino communities of Minnesota, giving them more opportunities to eat well. And that is better for all of us.

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