Food insecurity is more common than we think. It is estimated that 65% of Dane County households find themselves worrying about running out of food without the means to purchase more. United Madison wants to provide a hub for resources and information on this often overlooked, but very real issue.
Between March 1 and April 28 the volume of calls to United Way’s 211 line relating to food & meals jumped 300% compared to the pre-coronavirus timeframe.
Food insecurity is a situation that far too many in the Dane County area experience. It is estimated that 65% of Dane County households are in this position due to a combination of factors including low wages of underemployment, the high cost of housing in Dane County, medical and other basic living expenses. Seniors, individuals, and households with children make up this statistic. Imagine worrying about running out of food without having the means to purchase more.
Now imagine the impact in March 2020 when COVID 19 necessitated the stay at home order closing non-essential businesses and schools which resulted in many losing their paychecks, while seeing increased demand on the household food budget. Those barely making it paycheck to paycheck found themselves in a precarious position; and households who had never experienced unemployment found themselves struggling to meet their basic living expenses and put food on the table.
While government stimulus checks and increased unemployment checks helped ease the hardships, many struggled to access these benefits due to the unprecedented volume of claims, and those benefits are temporary. Unemployment has decreased somewhat since the end of the stay at home order, however, some jobs may be permanently gone or may pay less as the economy slowly opens. Households with young children may find themselves struggling to juggle employment and the added stress of accommodating virtual school schedules. Many households will continue to experience a significant gap between financial resources and payments for housing, childcare, and food.
Feeding America projects food insecurity in Dane County will jump 63% as a result of the pandemic.
When the stay at home order was issued in March 2020, food banks and food pantries, which provide emergency food resources to families in need, were deemed 'essential services' and were able to remain open; however, their world changed dramatically:
Using federal funds available through the Cares Act, Dane County distributed $3 million to Second Harvest Food Bank to stock area food pantries in Dane County through the end of July. In June, the county doubled the amount invested to a total of $6 million. Despite the influx of funding, it is estimated these funds will be depleted by the end of October when demand is expected to increase again.
BPNN operates one of the busiest food pantries in Dane County, Wisconsin. The pantry, which started in a church closet in 1986, now serves all of Dane County with a 100% volunteer staff. BPNN has expanded its service area to include all households in Dane County, implemented curbside pick-up, and increased the number of visits to two per month.
Established in 2019, Extended Hands Pantry aims to serve area families and individuals with compassionate acts of love. It's founders have been engaged in battling hunger for over twenty years and developed extensive and comprehensive knowledge of local food systems and food needs.
GCC is committed to creating and maintaining a community that respects and values diverse life experiences. From the Fritz food pantry, Hunger Heroes drive, Thanksgiving baskets, and countless other initiatives, GCC has been dedicated to solving the problem of hunger in our community. Learn more by clicking below and navigating to 'Services' and/or 'Events.'
The Madison School District is stepping up its food distribution program for the fall, offering free meals for all students at 40 school sites and providing five days’ worth of food at one time.
Click on the link below for information.
Mom was founded 40 years ago when community members of St. Luke’s Lutheran Church recognized there were neighbors that could use their assistance. Their work is still made possible by our community including more than 400 regular volunteers and 8,000 current donors. In fact, MOM is 100% funded by the community and does not rely on any government support.
Second Harvest exists to end hunger in Southwestern Wisconsin working together with hundreds of local food relief charities to distribute food to families in 16 counties. Between March 15 and August 15, 2020, Second Harvest distributed 65% more food compared to the same time period in 2019!
The United Way of Dane County runs a free information service 24/7 designed to connect those in need with service providers; including those looking for an emergency food resource. Just dial 211 on your phone, give them your zip code, and they will tell you where the nearest emergency food provider.
University Housing provides an average of 250 meals a week to students in need as part of the Food Recovery Pre-Package Program. Cooked and unserved food from dining markets are packaged and then frozen. UW-Madison students who may need a meal can stop by The Crossing Christian Center and grab one.