A new state-funded grant program will help pay for prepared meals that Minnesota nonprofits and tribes provide for people in need who are unable to visit a food shelf or cook their own meals.
The $3.3 million in state grants, included in the recently passed budget, will pay for tens of thousands of culturally specific meals over the next two years. The state Department of Human Services will start making the first grants later this year.
"It's important to serve local communities in ways we haven't done before," Deputy Human Services Commissioner Nikki Farago said.
The new program was part of a broader effort this year by the DFL-controlled Legislature to bolster support for food programs. Lawmakers approved free school breakfasts and lunches for students, and earmarked an additional $3 million annually for Minnesota's 470 food shelves over the next two years.
The allocation to food shelves, nearly triple the previous biennium's funding, is on top of $5 million in emergency aid that Gov. Tim Walz signed off on earlier this year for food shelves. The Legislature also approved $7 million in one-time funding to expand or renovate food shelves statewide.
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