By Jason DeRusha

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — It is almost inconceivable, in a country and a state, where there is so much food. So many farmers. there are so many families struggling to put food on their table.

“Twenty-five years ago I was homeless and on the streets of New York and didn’t know where my next meal was going to come from,” said Andrew Zimmern, Twin Cities resident, celebrity chef and host of the Travel Channel series “Bizarre Food.”

In September, Zimmern is partnering with the non-profit No Kid Hungry to talk about hunger.

“Healthy kids require food. If we want them to be in school, and in jobs, and a smaller drain on national insurance system, it all starts with food,” he said.

According to No Kid Hungry, one in five children is food insecure. That means they struggle deciding how to pay for meals at some point.

“We don’t have a food issue in this country, we have an access issue. Our programs are connecting kids to the food where the kids intersect,” Jennifer Kaleba, communications director for No Kid Hungry, said.

The Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit No Kid Hungry helps kids to nutritious food through school breakfast programs, summer meal sites, as well as teaching low-income families how to shop for and cook healthy meals at home.

It’s not the stereotypical hunger issue you might see around the world.

“It is the family for the first three weeks they can make it stretch. It’s moms skipping meals so they can eat,” she said, moms and dads choosing to not fill a prescription in order to buy dinner.

But even with the growth in food shelves in middle-class, suburban areas, Zimmern remains frustrated with the lack of national conversation about hunger.

“I think it’s gone from national embarrassment to a national crime. In an election year I’d like to see more of our local and state leaders talking about these kitchen table issues,” he said. “One in five Minnesotans go hungry, one in five children, and we’re wasting 40 percent of the food we buy.”

A solution seems clear.

In September, thousands of restaurants around the country are taking part in the Dine Out for No Kid Hungry campaign. Restaurants are offering discounts and coupons in exchange for donations. In 2015, Dine Out raised nearly $9 million in donations. To find a restaurant near you, click here.

Jason DeRusha