As demand continues to soar, food shelves and nonprofits try to keep pace with donations



Charitable giving has dropped nationwide, which complicates the problem for organizations in the Twin Cities.

GOLDEN VALLEY, Minn. — As the end of the year approaches, food shelves and nonprofit organizations across Minnesota continue to experience record demand for services, at a time when they’re also coping with a nationwide drop in charitable giving.

In Carver County, Bountiful Basket Food Shelf has served more than 5,600 people in 2023 — a 90% increase compared to the year before. The organization, which has operated in Chaska for 15 years, opened a second location in Cologne this summer but has already reached full capacity, leading Bountiful Basket to expand hours at that location to three days a week starting next month. Meanwhile, in Golden Valley, PRISM’s Marketplace Food Shelf has seen a 54% increase in visits, according to Advancement Director Alisha Weis.

While statewide numbers have not been released for the current year, the organization Hunger Solutions reported more than five million visits by Minnesotans to food shelves in 2022, which set another record during the pandemic.

“The demand has increased higher than we ever anticipated it would,” Weis said. “Right now, we’re seeing about 200 visits to the food shelf every day. Every month, we’re seeing anywhere from 250 to 350 new families reach out for help. That tells us the need still continues to rise.”

This August, PRISM actually set a record with more than 3,100 visits to the food shelf.

“What comes in the door this week is going to go out the door in the same week. We might get twelve pallets of food from a local business — it’s only sticking around for about a week and a half,” Weis said. “So really, anything is helpful.”

In other areas of social services, PRISM also saw a 300% increase in families seeking rental assistance last year.

However, fundraising levels have not kept up with this soaring demand for assistance. After a surge in giving early in the pandemic, organizations across the U.S. have experienced a drop in charitable giving, including some in the Twin Cities like PRISM.

Weis said that PRISM has fulfilled only 50 to 60% of its December 2023 donation goal, with only one week left until the turn of the calendar year.

“This is the first quarter of our fiscal year. This really sets us up for an entire year of what we can do in the community. We’ve got some pretty ambitious goals, and they’re high. We’re not quite there yet,” Weis said. “We’re really hoping that this next week brings in a lot of donations from the community.”

Elsewhere in the metro area, the Twin Cities Salvation Army reported Tuesday that its seasonal Christmas campaign is lagging $700,000 behind last year’s pace, representing a decrease of roughly 15 to 18% compared to 2022. This holiday fundraising effort accounts for nearly three-fourths of the Salvation Army’s annual revenue, which means services in 2024 could be reduced if fundraising does not accelerate by Dec. 31.

Salvation Army Northern Division Executive Director Paul Deakins attributed the drop to a variety of factors. Although inflation has cooled in recent months, food prices remain high and are still impacting the bottom line for many middle and lower-class families. The same economic forces driving an increased demand for charity, Deakins said, may also be affecting donors’ willingness to contribute.

“They’re also feeling things a little tighter, so they’re having to make those decisions of how to support those charities they’ve supported over the years,” Deakins said. “At this point, we’re hopeful that people will join with us, partner with us, and make a contribution to help make that deficit up.”

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Please direct media inquiries to Alisha Weis, Advancement Director

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