Poverty growing problem in Northern Minnesota

Lakeland Public Television, the Bemidji Pioneer and MPR are hosting a town-hall styled event tonight in Bemidji that focuses on the challenges surround the high rate of poverty in the area at a time of dwindling resources and economic opportunity. Leading up to this evening’s event, all three news partners deveoted editorial resources to help inform the discussion around the topic.

New census data shows some of the state’s poorest counties are in northwestern Minnesota, where living wage jobs are limited and geography isolates rural residents.

Beltrami County is one region with concentrated poverty where officials are examining the future challenges. About one in five people in Beltrami live in poverty — nearly a quarter of all children.

“We just keep giving out food, but our numbers continue to grow,” said Randy McKain, Food Shelf director. “There are more people in need.”

This year, the Food Shelf extended allotments of boxes of short-term emergency supplies from five times a year to monthly distribution. (Bemidji Pioneer).

The poverty rate in Beltrami County is nearly 21 percent and need is increasing, but resources are shrinking. Since the recession, the number of people getting some type of public assistance has climbed to approximately 6,000, up from around 5,000.

“Right now, the need is utility assistance. We’ve seen a little bit of a rise in the need for groceries,” says charity director Dottie Moen. “Gas to make it from paycheck to paycheck” (Bemidji Pioneer).

MPR’s Tom Robertson reports on the high rate of poverty through the perspectives of Amanda Vojak and Rebecca Spears. Vojak, a single mother, lives with her three children in a trailer park in Bemidji. She constantly juggles her finances, but said she’s never able to make ends meet. Spears, also lives in a Bemidji trailer park, lives with her 17-year-old daughter and relies on public assistance for income.

Also clicking on MN Today

In St. Cloud, constituents push GOP lawmakers to make deal

As their leaders try to come to some agreements, lawmakers also are hearing from constituents. At a town hall forum Monday night near St. Cloud, three Republican legislators took heavy criticism for Minnesota’s budget impasse (Minnesota Public Radio).

Groups look at shutdown and budget issues

State government and outside organizations are pursuing a two-pronged approach to state spending: write a new budget and prepare for a shutdown if no new spending plan passes in time (Alexandria Echo Press).

Meals on Wheels could be victim of MN government shutdown

It’s a program thousands of seniors in Minnesota depend on for food and nutrition. But could a possible Government shut down suspend Meals on Wheels and force seniors to fend for themselves? (WDAY)

By The Numbers

Number of Greater Minnesota Planned Parenthood clinics that are closing: 6

Cuts in federal funding are to blame. (MPR)

Number of years since the Minot-area has endured flooding like it is seeing today: 120

Amtrak’s Empire Building line that runs between St Paul and Havre, Mont. will cease until the waters recede. (Grand Forks Herald)


Our view / Lutsen water withdrawals: Even economic engines have to follow rules

Most of us are eager and happy to see local businesses succeed and do well. Healthy businesses mean healthy economies and healthy, robust communities with more opportunities for all. But how much are we willing to sacrifice for that? (Duluth News Tribune)

Minnesota cage match

There is a dirty little secret at the heart of the budget battle. Governor Dayton not only wants a shutdown, he wants a shutdown that is as painful as possible (Powerline).

Gov. Dayton gives shutdown orders

The Dayton administration is too busy shutting government down to find time to avert a shutdown (Let Freedom Ring).

Blog Box

Paddle the Sauk: Cold Spring to the Mississippi

We made it! Day 8 found us paddling from just below the Cold Spring Dam to the Mississippi river. The first several miles were uneventful but the scenery was spectacular (Paddle the Sauk).

More on the duo’s trip down the Sauk.

‘Obama’ sends up Pawlenty at RLC, gets hook

Comic Reggie Brown, brought in as an Obama impersonator at this weekend’s Republican Leadership Conference in New Orleans, just managed to get in a few words about Minnesotans Tim Pawlenty and Michele Bachmann before he got the hook (Star Tribune).

Minnesota Scenes

Birch in Fog (iPhone)