Skip to main content

Thumbs up to the nonprofit South Central Minnesota Food Recovery for expanding their organization, working with more groups and providing more food to those in need.

Natasha Frost, owner of Wooden Spoon, started collecting leftovers from organizations and restaurants to give to those in need three years ago. More recently, they’ve processed the food into frozen meals. Churches and other groups that help with meal distribution are already working to expand the freezer space to store meals.

Now the group has more partners and funding. It just received a grant from Blue Earth County Statewide Health Improvement Partnership and Nicollet, Brown Le Sueur and Waseca County’s SHIP to create a certified space dedicated to volunteerism at Frost Plaza in Mankato.

Volunteers are now processing food and preparing meals in a space that is not well suited for food.

As more partners join, the group is already planning bigger and better things and applying for more grants. The concept of food recovery is good – reduce food waste and therefore greenhouse gas emissions, prepare meals that can be stored and ultimately get food to people who need it.

Birk offends women

Thumbs down to GOP lieutenant governor nominee Matt Birk for insensitive and deaf comments about women’s role in society and about women having abortions.

At last month’s National Right to Life conference in Georgia, Birk said American culture “vocally but also covertly promotes abortion” by “telling women they should look a certain way, they should have a career,” so a Star Tribune report.

He criticized abortion rights advocates who opposed abortion bans that didn’t include exceptions for rape and incest, saying they “always want to go to the rape map.”

He went further and said exceptions for rape and incest in relation to abortion amount to “Two mistakes won’t… make it right.”

The GOP ticket starring Birk and gubernatorial candidate Scott Jensen opposes abortion with no exceptions for rape and incest, the only exception being the health threats to the mother. Jensen has said the maternal health exception could include cases of rape or incest.

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

Payday loans under pressure

Thumbs up for local efforts to reform the way payday loans work.

Advocates of local nonprofits plan to ask Mankato City Council to impose interest rate caps on so-called “predatory” payday lenders. Payday loans, typically $500 or less, give borrowers quick cash that can be repaid in full by their next paycheck at high interest rates.

Critics say the loans are targeting people in desperate situations, enticing borrowers with limited credit options into taking on huge debts they can’t extricate themselves from.

After gaining little ground with the Minnesota legislature at a statewide cap, supporters of local nonprofits held a briefing Wednesday to outline what a city ordinance might look like. Minnesotans for Fair Lending, the Minnesota Church Council’s Mankato Refugee Services Office, the Greater Mankato Area United Way and Exodus Lending were partners at the event.

As the Mankato City Council previously decided to limit smoking in public places rather than wait for the state to do so, the city is scheduled 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 proponents. Borrowers would be limited to two loans of up to $1,000 per calendar year, with a minimum repayment period of 60 days, under the regulation.

Of course, a more comprehensive solution to predatory lending practices would have been if the legislature had taken action. But if that doesn’t happen, finding solutions on a more local level can at least save people in that community from getting into deeper debt than necessary. At least the proposal draws the necessary attention to the problem.