It was a rainy spring afternoon when Matter’s phones started ringing and our email inboxes filled up: “Did you know you’re trending right now??”, “I just saw you on the front page of Reddit!”
For the last few months, everyone at Matter has been honored that our newest program, the MatterBox, has gotten national attention – from Reddit up votes, to articles written (by such media outlets as Fast Company, Upworthy and Minnesota Public Radio) and interviews on national radio programs – but we are not surprised. Matter has been so excited about this project, especially the innovative ways our partners are using the MatterBox to help expand access to healthy food in nontraditional ways.
Today there are more obese people in the world than hungry and starving combined.
Matter has always existed at the intersection of access to health and food and though Matter has a robust international program, we recognize that the needs in our own community are great: According to Hunger Free Minnesota, there are 100 million missed meals annually throughout our state. In recent years it has become more and more clear that traditional means of providing food resources to our neighbors living with food insecurity are falling short: only 5% of a food insecure person’s meals come from a charity/food pantry.
Additionally, due to food deserts – urban or rural areas where access to healthy food or super markets is limited, however fast food restaurants are typically prevalent – diabetes and obesity are taking a dramatic rise. According to a study published in the Journal of Nutrition, clinical diabetes affects 15.9% of people living in food-insecure households, as opposed to 7% of those living in food-secure homes.
In fact, today there are more obese people in the world than hungry or starving combined.
It’s no longer enough just to distribute food, it is imperative that people are connected to the right type of food. Matter, as a nonprofit focused on both health and food, saw this space as an opportunity to find new avenues of getting healthy food to our neighbors facing food insecurity. At the heart of Matter’s work is the goal to develop capacity for those already working on the ground. So when Matter created our shelf-stable, healthy food box, we partnered with those already working in the communities where people struggling with food insecurity live.
By partnering with Hennepin County Medical Clinic dietitians, Matter has created several styles of healthy food boxes. The Breakfast, Lunch and Family-Style Dinner Boxes are not only nutritionally-balanced, they are also easy to transport and store. From drawers in a school counselor’s office to the trunk of a Hennepin County Sheriff’s squad car, the MatterBox is finding many homes. Each box contains healthy eating education, recipes and several easy-to-prepare meals. School districts are giving children who receive free and reduced meals throughout the school year lunch boxes so that they are not hungry during the summer holidays. HCMC’s Diabetes Clinic is using the Family Dinner Boxes as a teaching tool for multi-generational teaching on healthy eating and nutrition, as well as a way to ensure their patients are getting connected with the right type of food.
Matter believes that these examples are just the beginning for the ways the MatterBox can be used. Through nontraditional partners, we hope to continue to expand access to healthy food in our community, and to empower others to create a world where we all matter more.
If you’d like to schedule a MatterBox packing event, contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
If you’d like your organization to distribute MatterBoxes, contact: email@example.com