Impact and Programs
Throughout this unusual and difficult year, our communities came together to ensure that neighbors had food on their plates, a safe place to stay, and someone to support them. This year more than ever, these impacts are thanks to our amazing donors, partners, staff, and volunteers. In 2020, Family Pathways participated in 21 mass food distribution events bringing over 300,000 meals to 20,352 people. Our food support programs saw a 10% increase in distribution from our mobile food pantry and partnered with our Aging Services staff to create a new Doorstep Delivery program for those unable to visit the food shelves due to COVID-19. 99 women and children found shelter at Black Dog Hill Emergency Shelter in 2020. Our staff saw a 71% increase in calls from outside our five-county service area, despite a drop in arrests due to the pandemic. In 2020, the DV program saw a 34% increase in clients overall. Aging Services staff and volunteers provided 2,993 hours of consultation and support to 149 caregivers and 2,669 hours of homemaking services to 171 older adults. Our supervised visitation program provided 2,391 hours to families across 13 counties, allowing parents and children to stay connected. All of this was supported by Family Pathways thrift stores which received donations from 76,960 people, with customers donating an additional $120,399 to support programming by rounding up their purchases.
For over 40 years, Family Pathways has dedicated resources and supports to the service region to address food equity and access, domestic and sexual violence, and our aging population and their caregivers. Though our mission statement has evolved over time, one thing has remained true: equality for all needs to be top priority. Our commitment to combat racism and grow towards change and inclusion, means we must be more than just words, more than just a statement. Our actions must reflect the reality that we cannot just return to old injustices. We must make constant efforts to assure that our friends, family, and neighbors are no longer oppressed, marginalized, or forgotten. The Family Pathways Board of Directors, as well as the employees, have discussed additional ways our organization can contribute to the positive social changes that we are dedicated to make. United, we can truly adhere to our mission to work alongside people to enhance lives through a continuum of essential services and – together with community, champion positive social change. Our programmatic goals include serving victims of domestic violence and sexual assault in North Eastern MN. We have formed partnerships with the Native American tribal reservations to enhance services to the Native American Populations. We have implemented a youth intervention program that we will bring to the school districts requesting services, and we will continue to conduct individual programming for at risk youth. We complete the cycle of violence programming by continuing to offer batterer intervention programming in our counties served. We will offer youth programming at our domestic violence shelter and support groups at all locations for victims of domestic violence. Our food equity program has programmatic goals surrounding the continuance of serving any individual/family that needs food assistance. Have available resources for them to pursue assistance in other financial areas and how to connect with those resources. Help them become sustainable on their own if possible. During the pandemic, the biggest goal we had was to continue to give hope to them and let them know we are here to help. o Family Pathways strives to promote a holistic approach to older adults and their caregivers, placing them at the center of their own care, to help them remain in their homes. Our work supports an Age-Friendly MN in the domains of respect and social inclusion, social participation, and communication and information.
Community or Constituency Served
Family Pathways’ community includes 230,000 residents – of which Family Pathways provides services to over 20,000 people or 9% of the population - living in the City of Forest Lake and the Counties of Chisago, Isanti, Pine, Kanabec, Mille Lacs and Carlton in Minnesota; as well as Polk County in Wisconsin. A geographically large region adjacent to the Twin Cities Metro Area, at 5,175 square miles the service area comprises 6.5% of the state of Minnesota.
Family Pathways aligns its work with the social and physical determinants of health for community members. Reliable, geographic specific data tracking the pandemic’s impact on these determinants is not yet available, so the statistics included do not reflect the current reality. We know, anecdotally, that food security, employment, and violence have all been negatively impacted by COVID-19 and that the population we serve- children, rural residents, victims of abuse, and older adults - are being disproportionately affected.
Poverty –The average poverty rate in Minnesota before COVID-19 was 9.9%. In east central Minnesota that rate was 10.38%. In our community, the children living in poverty exceeds the state average of 13%- in Kanabec (20%), Mille Lacs (17%), Pine (17%). Within our programs, 91% of participants are living below 200% of the federal poverty level.
Food Insecurity – In early 2020, 9% of Minnesotans, or over 500,000 people, were experiencing food insecurity. Three of the counties we serve exceed that percentage with 12 % of Kanabec country residents, and 11% of Pine and Mille Lacs county residents experiencing food insecurity. Similarly, at a rate of 11% of residents, Polk county exceed the Wisconsin-wide food insecurity rate of 10%. Across our service region 36% of children are eligible for free or reduced-price lunch and 33% of Family Pathways’ food shelf clients are under 18 years of age. The USDA defines a food desert as a low-income area (census tract), where a significant number of residents live more than 10 miles from a big grocery store in rural areas. Onamia, in Mille Lacs County, is one example of a food desert in the Family Pathways region.
Violence – Family Pathways’ Black Dog Hill Shelter serves an area covering 7,100 square miles where there are no other shelters as well as taking over-flow from the Twin Cities’ shelters (approximately 19% of its residents). A frightening statistic, 16% of youth in the Family Pathways service area report having experienced physical or emotional abuse; and 9% report living in a home where there is drug or alcohol abuse. These are adverse childhood experiences (ACES) and, without intervention and healing, can be linked to depression and anxiety and poor health outcomes in adulthood.
Aging population – The percentage of adults over 65 years of age in our service area is 17%, nearly double the percentage, 9% living in the metro area. Low-income older adults are often restricted by a lack of transportation to procure their own food, healthcare or even visit with friends, family and other community members. COVID-19 has exacerbated the issue of social isolation among older adults and our Equitable Food Access program has partnered with our Aging program to bridge that with Doorstep Delivery food program, outreach, and remote engagement efforts.
Geographic isolation and lack of public transportation - East central Minnesota and western Wisconsin is dotted with rural residents and small towns. Our average population density is 1/43 of the density in the Twin Cities Metro Area. People in our community who work outside the home travel an average of 31 minutes to work and many live similarly long distances from crucial resources and supportive services. This affects social isolation, access to healthy food and safety – as it can take 30 minutes or more for law enforcement to reach a destination- and makes access to reliable transportation and money for gas an essential part of overall well-being.
Geographic Area Served
City of Forest Lake and the Counties of Chisago, Isanti, Pine, Kanabec, Mille Lacs and Carlton in Minnesota; as well as Polk County in Wisconsin.