Community-focused Solutions to Hunger
It is estimated that our nation spends about $90 billion annually in excess healthcare costs due to food insecurity.
Access to nutritious food is considered a key driver of health.
Community Hunger Solutions is dedicated to connecting healthy, locally produced food with community members who face barriers to access.
CHS envisions a thriving and sustainable local food system in which every community member has access to the kinds and quantities of foods they choose to eat.
Edible Learning Spaces
Community Hunger Solutions uses a replicable model to connect local food with community members who face barriers to access. Utilizing excess food, securing funding for local food purchase, and making connections throughout our expanding network, CHS is helping build a more sustainable and equitable local food system - one that includes hunger relief organizations as a valuable component of the whole - while addressing barriers to food access in our communities.
Image: purple cauliflower
Producing Fresh Food
Strict retail standards and the extremely perishable nature of many food items means a lot of waste in our local food supply chain. Community Hunger Solutions provides support to local farms and food retailers in exchange for their excess food products. Through partnerships with Harmony Valley, Driftless Organics, Organic Valley and others, CHS is able to source tens of thousands of pounds of local produce and dairy for redistribution to local food pantries, community meals, and educational programs.
Beyond excess food, Community Hunger Solutions recognizes that purchasing food from farmers is a necessary way to secure high demand items and helps the local food system. CHS has brought hundreds of thousands of dollars into the local food system through local food purchasing programs.
"Without the work of CHS, we wouldn’t be able to contribute to our community in this way and a lot of valuable food would otherwise go to our compost pile." - Andrea Yoder, Harmony Valley Farm
Image: families enjoy library activities at Bekkum Memorial Library, Westby
Removing Barriers to Acess
Community Hunger Solutions provides local, organic produce and dairy to 17 area food pantries and community meal sites in Crawford, Grant, Monroe, Richland and Vernon Counties. Beyond emergency food programs, CHS supports libraries, churches, and classrooms - community led organizations working to increase awareness of and access to healthy foods. Excess produce in larger volumes is offered to Hunger Task Force of La Crosse, spreading the reach of our program to all of Western Wisconsin and into Minnesota! CHS delivers produce and dairy to our partner pantries and meal sites free of charge. Despite increases in overhead in 2021, CHS distributed about 175,000 pounds of produce and 150,000 pints/pounds of dairy products to our partners serving families facing food insecurity. The most common feedback we get about our food donations is that it's incredibly fresh! CHS prides ourselves on providing food that's every bit as fresh and healthy as that found on grocery store shelves.
"[The patrons] light up when they see the produce we have to offer. Green beans, zucchini, and more...they can't wait to cook them up!"
-Readstown food distribution volunteer
Image: volunteers in the garden
Providing Needed Resources
From major financial contributors to volunteers working a couple of hours each season, Community Hunger Solutions relies on our network of community supporters to provide the labor and money essential to our mission.
CHS operates with just two paid part time employees and exchanges tax deductions for donated food and services whenever possible. The result of this fiscal conservatism? CHS distributes food at a cost of just $0.25 per pound/pint distributed!
And, as a Hunger Relief Federation Member, CHS is committed to NEVER charging our partners for food and other resources.
"I am happy to be part of an organization that helps get healthy, local food distributed to food pantries and other outlets... It’s also a great way to meet other people who are interested in food security and food equity issues – and who are willing to work to improve the distribution network"
- Jennie R.
Community Hunger Solutions believes in change. People don't have to be food insecure and producing healthy food that's good for the environment shouldn't be a struggle for farmers.
CHS works to educate folks about food insecurity through partnerships within the community. We also work to educate consumers about the unnecessary struggles farmers face in producing food for our tables.
Our newest project, the Food Equity Project, aims to uncover barriers to food equity and then develop solutions. The project will begin with an in-depth Food Equity Assessment, beginning Fall 2021 which will bring together community members representing a diverse group of people facing food insecurity. Through conversations, we'll develop strong relationships with these members of our community and will uncover the barriers they face in accessing healthy food. These relationships will help us inform policy and programming now and into the future, ensuring that CHS is doing our part to help end food injustice once and for all!
While hunger still exists, Community Hunger Solutions wants to ensure that healthy food is as accessible as possible. Sometimes that means more than just dropping it off.
CHS provides informational resources for pantries and their patrons to help them better understand how to store and eat various foods. These resources include simple info sheets for pantries to display and recipe cards for patrons to take home as well as information on applying for FoodShare, WIC, and other benefits that help low income members of our community access healthy food options.
We work to bring fresh, local food into classrooms through various partnerships with Farm to School and with schools, directly. In Fall 2021, CHS will launch Growing Communities, a Farm to Early Childhood Education project that will connect our youngest community members and their families with local produce and nutrition education.