The cost of healthy eating? $1.50 more per day

a woman holding cucumbers

The Salvation Army believes that healthy foods lead to healthier, happier families.

Unfortunately, some Minnesota families cannot afford to eat healthy foods. Eating healthy costs about $1.50 more per day than eating unhealthy, according to a Harvard study. For a family of four, that equals $6 per day, or $180 per month.

Pizza boxesSpending an extra $180 per month is not possible for most low-income families. That money is already reserved for gas, phone bills, utilities, and other mandatory expenses. As a result, many families are practically forced to eat cheap, unhealthy processed foods.

The Salvation Army is trying to change this trend by offering a greater number of healthy foods and fresh produce at our food shelves – and you can help.

Friday food fairA great example of how we’re solving this problem is through our “Friday Food Fair” at the West 7th Salvation Army in St. Paul (pictured). Every Friday morning, about 200 guests come to receive fresh produce donated by local grocery stores.

One of the guests is Kenyana, a mother of four kids, ages 7 to 16. She’s been coming to Friday Food Fair, off and on, for about a year.

“I most like getting the vegetables here – especially kale,” Kenyana said. “We can’t afford fresh food sometimes because it’s too expensive. There are a lot of people who come here who really need this.”

Ana GonzalezKenyana is correct: Friday Food Fair is the primary source of food for about 65 percent of its guests, according to a study conducted by Ana Gonzalez (pictured), social services leader at the West 7th Salvation Army.

“Most of the rest of our guests come here to supplement whatever food they cannot afford on their own,” Gonzalez said. “People can’t always afford fresh food. They won’t spend $6 on a pineapple when they can spend $6 on six boxes of mac and cheese.”

Friday Food Fair distributes between 15,000 and 20,000 pounds of food every month thanks to donations from Cub, Kowalski’s, Lunds & Byerlys, and Sam’s Club.

Get involved

March is Minnesota FoodShare Month, the state’s biggest food drive of the year. It is the perfect time to help The Salvation Army get more healthy foods into the fridges and pantries of families in need.

Here are four ways you can get involved:

Take on our Lent Challenge

Lent begins March 6, when Christians around the world will spend 40 days reflecting upon and preparing for Easter (learn about Lent).

A woman holds a bundle of lettuceThis Lenten season, we challenge you to help struggling families eat healthier by doing one of the following:

  • Donate 40 items of healthy food – perishable or nonperishable – to a Salvation Army food shelf near you. Find your nearest food shelf in the Twin Cities and Greater Minnesota.


E Lake St Salvation Army food shelfThe Salvation Army operates 20 food shelves in Minnesota, and all of them need volunteers. Typical volunteer duties include sorting food donations, stocking shelves, and helping families fill their grocery bags.

Find a Salvation Army food shelf near you in the Twin Cities or Greater Minnesota and sign up to volunteer.

Become a recurring donor

Struggling families should have access to fresh fruits and vegetables all year long. You can help make this happen by becoming a recurring donor. Your monthly gift of any amount will help to ensure that families always have healthy meals and snacks to eat, month after month. Become a recurring donor.   

Grow a row

Gardening season is just around the corner. As you prepare to plant this year’s crop, resolve to “grow a row” for families served by Salvation Army food shelves.

A gardener waters plantsYou can maximize the amount of fresh food you donate by planting fast-growing veggies such as baby carrots, beets, lettuce, squash, and cucumbers. Other helpful produce includes snap peas, beans, tomatoes, onions, and potatoes.

No matter what types of fruits or vegetables you like to grow, The Salvation Army knows lots of families that would love to eat them. Donate your produce at your nearest Salvation Army food shelf in the Twin Cities and Greater Minnesota.     

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