Equity in Food Access
While access to healthy food is essential for people visiting food pantries and community meals, CHS also recognizes that many individuals who lack access to healthy food aren't being reached by conventional programs. CHS is committed to ensuring our programming helps everyone in the community through the following initiatives.
Rural Southwest WI
Food Equity Project
Based on county data, anywhere from five to ten percent of community members in rural Southwest WI identify as Black, Indigenous, or other People of Color (BIPOC) but the leadership within Community Hunger Solutions and our partner organizations doesn't reflect this diversity. Current systems are failing to engage BIPOC leaders in a meaningful way. Additionally, hunger relief efforts are led by people who largely have not experienced food insecurity themselves. These factors make it impossible to ensure our programs are reaching the community members who need them.
In response to these challenges, Community Hunger Solutions created the Rural Southwest WI Food Equity Project (FEP). The FEP creates connections between CHS and BIPOC leaders in food access and creates an Accountability Committee comprised of individuals who have experienced food insecurity. Both of these components will drastically improve CHS' and partners' ability to reach a wider network of individuals in the community and will provide a platform for them to influence local hunger relief efforts, starting with Community Hunger Solutions.
Growing Communities (GCP) is a grassroots nutrition education initiative that provides structure and support for locally led farm focused nutrition educational programming. Participants will be offered an optional CSA (community supported agriculture) farm subscription on a sliding scale with the option to pay week to week. The CSA will be delivered directly to childcare sites each week, making it as simple as possible for families to participate. Additionally, Community Hunger Solutions’ Education and Outreach Specialist Dana Sheffen will provide on-site nutrition education to each location at least once per month. What makes Growing Communities more than just another Farm to School initiative? GCP focuses on the entire community, inviting everyone from the geographic area to participate. The first step to the project is a major outreach to learn what the community wants and who wants to participate. When the entire community is considered as a whole unit, the possibilities are endless! After Community Hunger Solutions facilitates the programs that the community wants to see implemented, CHS will work to help the community make them sustainable. Finally, once a community has a robust farm to institution practice, CHS will continue to check in with their progress offering assistance for any challenges they may encounter, ensuring longevity for the programs GCP helps initiate.
Farm to Pantry Initiative
"I try to think about the idea that the burden isn’t on the person receiving the free food to just take what we have available to them, that they should learn about something new so that they can eat healthy food. Nutrition Education can be effective, especially for youth but it's not the whole answer." -Jeanette Burlingame, Program Manager on the need for funding to purchase local food
Community Hunger Solutions receives about 150,000 pounds of donated fruits, veggies and dairy products each year for distribution to local partners. Many common and needed items are missing from the commodities donated, however. Items like tomatoes (yes, tomatoes), green beans, peppers, onions, and sweet corn are rarely donated. With a focus on food access and equity, this means that people who visit pantries in our area are still lacking access to a huge variety of commonly consumed foods: foods that are certainly available in excess in our area but, for a variety of reasons, not possible for area farms to donate in significant amounts. Funding for CHS' Farm to Pantry Initiative allows CHS to purchase these high demand items and distribute them to hunger relief partners free of charge. Given proper funding, Community Hunger Solutions has the ability to distribute an additional 150,000# of produce from local farms every year! With our purchasing power, CHS could buy that food with just $40,000. That's money that would go directly into our local food economy every single year, money that farmers can count on for produce items that are currently being left in fields. CHS is currently able to spend about $10-15,000 annually on purchases directly from local farms. The Farm to Pantry Initiative secures recurring funding for the purchase of local foods, ensuring that everyone in our community has access to a wide variety of healthy locally produced foods.