Our opinion: the food recovery program is beneficial for all | Editorials

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Kudos to the nonprofit South Central Minnesota Food Recovery for expanding their organization, partnering with more groups, and ultimately providing more food to those in need.

Natasha Frost, owner of Wooden Spoon, began three years ago collecting leftover food from organizations and restaurants to give to those in need. More recently, they have turned food into frozen meals. Churches and other groups that help distribute meals are already working to expand freezer space to store meals.

Now the group has more partners and funding. She just received a grant from the Blue Earth County Statewide Health Improvement Partnership and Nicollet, Brown Le Sueur and Waseca Counties SHIP to create a certified space specifically for volunteer work at Frost Plaza in Mankato.

Volunteers now process food and prepare meals in a space that is not suitable for food.

With the addition of additional partners, the group is already planning bigger and better things and applying for more grants. The concept of food recovery is a good one: it reduces food waste and thus greenhouse gas emissions, prepares meals that can be stored, and ultimately gets food to people who need it.

Birk insults women

Thanks to Republican candidate for Lieutenant Governor Matt Birk for his insensitive and tone-deaf comments on the role of women in society and on women who have abortions.

At the National Right to Life conference last month in Georgia, Birk said American culture “loudly but also quietly promotes abortion” by “telling women that they should look a certain way, that they should have careers ”, according to a report in the Star Tribune.

He criticized abortion rights supporters who opposed abortion bans that do not include exceptions for rape and incest saying they “always want to go to the rape card.”

He went further, saying that the rape and incest exceptions with respect to abortion amount to “Two wrongs aren’t going to… make it right.”

The Republican ticket, with Birk and gubernatorial candidate Scott Jensen, opposes abortion without exception for rape and incest, with the sole exception of threats to the mother’s health. Jensen has said the maternal health exception could include cases of rape or incest.

However the GOP wants to dance around the abortion issue, Birk’s comments speak to a broader set of concerns about how it views women in society.

payday loan pressure

We support local efforts to reform the way payday loans work.

Advocates for local nonprofits plan to ask the Mankato City Council to place caps on interest rates for what they call “predatory” payday lenders. Payday loans, typically for $500 or less, provide borrowers with quick cash to pay off in full with high interest in their next paycheck.

Critics say the loans are aimed at people in dire straits, luring borrowers with limited credit options into taking on huge debt they can’t get out of.

After gaining little ground on a state line with the Minnesota Legislature, advocates for local nonprofits held a briefing Wednesday to outline what a city ordinance would look like. Minnesotans for Fair Lending, the Minnesota Council of Churches’ Mankato Refugee Services office, Greater Mankato Area United Way and Exodus Lending partnered on the event.

Just as the Mankato City Council previously decided to curb smoking in public places rather than wait for the state to do so, the proposal is for the city to pass an ordinance requiring an interest rate of no more than 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 ordinance, 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 absent that, looking for solutions at a more local level can at least protect people in this community from going deeper into debt than necessary. At a minimum, the proposal draws the necessary attention to the problem.

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