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September 15, 2022

Free & Local

Deb Luster
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The USDA states that over 10.5% of the U.S. population is considered hungry or food insecure.  On top of that, Americans throw out 200 tons of uneaten food daily.  So…connecting food to food insecure communities is SO vitally important. One of the most inspirational conversations I have ever had was with Jonathan Hansen, Development Director for  Hunger Task Force in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.  This organization is deeply committed to their core values of “Dignity, Justice, Compassion Stewardship” by actively working towards relieving food insecurities in Wisconsin and beyond. After learning about many of their programs serving communities by providing free and local meals, I have come to believe that Hunger Task Force is one of our country’s best examples of a national model helping to end hunger.

Founded in 1974,  Hunger Task Force in the Milwaukee area of Wisconsin serves over 50,000 people per month by directing healthy food to 70 food pantries in Milwaukee County while also supporting and directing millions of pounds of food resources statewide, and nationwide advocacy programs for food insecurities.  Hunger Task Force is a leading member of the Hunger Relief Federation with over 160 members including 10 tribal nations sharing resources to create a unified voice to end hunger. 

“This organization is deeply committed to their core values of “Dignity, Justice, Compassion Stewardship” by actively working towards relieving food insecurities in Wisconsin and beyond.”

Their advocacy programs include a focus on SNAP, senior nutrition programs and local and USDA school meal programs.  They work with federal programs and elected officials to shift local and US policy toward creative ways to end hunger.   One other difference when comparing Hunger Task Force to some other programs is that they only source healthy food for these programs.  In fact, when we offered to donate Goodles they were careful to point out that they had strict protocol around health and that some of our competitor mac and cheese donations were not accepted.  Of course, Goodles meets the nutrition requirements for their programs and we were able to donate over 6,200 boxes this summer for their summer meals and other offerings.    Unlike many other programs around the country,  Hunger Task Force never asks for money from pantries or those needing a meal and rely almost exclusively on volunteers.    They also operate a farm in Franklin Wisconsin where 500,000 pounds of fresh produce is grown annually for the express purpose of feeding the hungry. The Farm team is supported by over 5,000 volunteers each season.

On top of all their food bank  programs, education programs, nationwide advocacy to create public policy to end hunger, summer meals, school meals and senior meals,  Hunger Task Force collaborates with organizations like retailer Piggly Wiggly to create a Mobile Market grocery store on wheels to reach parts of Milwaukee deemed food deserts.  

 Hunger Task Force needs our support.  Per Jonathan, recent pantry numbers continue to rise in Milwaukee (jumping from 21,000 people each month to over 31,000 people each month in just the last few months), food is becoming more unaffordable for folks, and they are starting to see cancellations of truckloads from their commodity programs. Starting in 2023 they are projecting a shortfall of 10 truckloads of food that they will need to cover food purchases.  Let’s step up and help them out in every way we can to help end hunger in our communities and allow them to continue advocating for those 10.5% of hungry Americans. 

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