Kudos to the nonprofit South Central Minnesota Food Recovery for expanding its organization, partnering with more groups, and ultimately getting more food to those in need.
Natasha Frost, owner of Wooden Spoon, began collecting leftover food from organizations and restaurants three years ago to donate to people in need. More recently, they have turned food into frozen entrees. Churches and other groups helping to distribute meals are already working on expanding freezer space to store meals.
Now the group has more partners and funding. He just received a grant from Blue Earth County Statewide Health Improvement Partnership and Nicollet, Brown Le Sueur, and Waseca SHIP counties to create a certified space specifically for volunteer work at Frost Plaza in Mankato.
Volunteers are now processing food and preparing meals in a space that is not well suited for food.
With the arrival of new partners, the group is already planning bigger and better things and asking for more grants. The concept of food recovery is a good concept: reducing food waste and therefore greenhouse gas emissions, preparing meals that can be stored and ultimately providing food to people who need it.
Birk insults women
Kudos to GOP Lieutenant Governor candidate Matt Birk for his callous and tone-deaf comments about the role of women in society and women who have abortions.
At the National Right to Life Conference last month in Georgia, Birk said American culture “loudly but also stealthily promotes abortion” by “telling women that they should look a certain way, that they should have a career,” according to a Star Tribune article.
He slammed abortion rights supporters who have opposed abortion bans that don’t include exceptions for rape and incest saying they ‘still want to go the rape card’ .
He went further, saying that the rape and incest exceptions for abortion amounted to “Two wrongs won’t…make things right.”
The GOP ticket, along with Birk and gubernatorial candidate Scott Jensen, opposes abortion with no exceptions for rape and incest, the only exception being threats to the health of the mother. Jensen said the maternal health exception could include cases of rape or incest.
However, the GOP post wants to dance around the issue of abortion, Birk’s comments speak to a broader set of concerns about how he views women in society.
The pressure of payday loans
Kudos to local efforts to reform how payday loans work.
Local nonprofit advocates plan to ask the Mankato City Council to impose interest rate caps on what they call “predatory” payday lenders. Payday loans, typically for $500 or less, give borrowers quick cash to pay off in full at a high interest rate by their next paycheck.
Critics say the loans target people in dire straits, prompting borrowers with limited credit options to take on huge debts they can’t get out of.
After gaining little ground on a statewide cap with the Minnesota Legislature, advocates for local nonprofits held a briefing Wednesday to outline what a city ordinance might look like. . Minnesotans for Fair Lending, Minnesota Council of Churches Mankato Refugee Services Office, United Way of Greater Mankato Area and Exodus Lending partnered with the event.
Like the Mankato City Council which previously decided to limit smoking in public places instead of waiting for the state to do so, the proposal is to have the city pass an ordinance calling for an interest rate maximum of 33% on payday loans.
The average annual interest rate on payday loans in Blue Earth County in 2021 was 294%, according to advocates. Borrowers would also be limited to two loans of up to $1,000 per calendar year under the order, with a minimum repayment period of 60 days.
A broader solution to predatory lending practices would, of course, have been for the legislature to take action. But in the absence of this, finding solutions at a more local level can at least prevent members of this community from taking on more debt than necessary. At the very least, the proposal draws the necessary attention to the problem.