Who CHS Serves
Those facing food insecurity
CHS coordinates sourcing and delivery of healthy meals to over 70,000 people in need with nutritious food that otherwise would have gone to waste.
CHS offers local farmers an opportunity to market their “seconds” produce, allowing this healthy food to be provided to area food pantries for distribution to those in need.
Food Pantries and Food Banks
CHS provides distribution of fresh produce to local food pantries and regional food banks. CHS also provides pantries with the educational support needed to encourage healthy eating.
People with Varying Abilities
CHS provides people with varying abilities needed job and integration skills through harvesting and processing of fresh produce.
Approximately 1/3 or 23,000 of the 70,000 individuals CHS serves are over 60 years of age. In addition, another 150 seniors at 5 local residential centers receive free deliveries of fresh produce.
- The primary target area is the under-served population of low income recipients who rely on the food pantries in 18 counties of Southwest Wisconsin, including 13 meal sites within 20 miles of the Food Enterprise Center in Viroqua.
- This region includes school districts where 45-49% of the children qualify for free and reduced lunches. Approximately 14% of the region’s population lives below the poverty level and 22% of the children are considered food insecure; 43% of those served are children under 18 years old, 60% of households have incomes below the federal poverty level, with a total of more than 22,700 people receiving emergency food assistance in any given week.
- These 18 Wisconsin counties served through our vital partnerships are: Adams, Columbia, Crawford, Dane, Dodge, Grant, Green, Iowa, Jefferson, Juneau, La Crosse, Lafayette, Monroe, Richland, Rock, Sauk, Vernon and Trempealeau.
An estimated $3 billion of quality produce is abandoned in U.S. fields each year, yet one in every five Americans is considered to be food insecure.
Benefits From CHS’ Services
- Provides immediate dietary improvement as well as long lasting attitudinal shifts towards healthy eating.
- Engages, empowers and connects many food system-related partners to work together to build critical infrastructure that reduces hunger in Southwest Wisconsin.
- Reduces hunger & increases food access as a basic right by facilitating an influx of thousands of lbs. of fresh produce to Wisconsin food pantries and meal sites: in 2014 CHS procured 165,223 lbs.; in 2015 CHS procured 245,285 (an increase of 48 %); and in 2016 CHS procured 351,173 lbs. (an increase of 43%).
- Strengthens the community food system by linking area farmers to local food pantries and meal sites through vital partnerships. Coordinates transportation and distribution of food through the regional food banks, Hunger Task Force of La Crosse and Second Harvest of Madison; provides important infrastructure for procurement and staging capabilities through the Food Enterprise Center in Viroqua; receives generous food donations of excess produce from retail and wholesale distributors like Organic Valley through their produce pool in Cashton, WI.
- Strengthens the business capacity of local small farmers by purchasing their quality “seconds” for food pantries. This gives growers a market for the approximately 50% of their produce that does not meet stringent retail specifications, though still containing 100% of the nutritional value.
- Increases the effectiveness of food pantries & meal sites to educate food pantry recipients in the benefits of taking home, cooking and eating healthy fresh produce by distributing unique recipe cards, giving food demos and conducting workshops on best methods and practices for food pantry personnel.
Possible Future Projects:
- The creation of frozen food or freeze dried products from left-over produce that would provide meal sites with year-round offerings for healthy eating that would complement fresh food with options for meal site users that are easier to recognize and prepare.
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