2019 Annual Report

A look back at the foundation’s impact in 2019 and a Word from Feeding Wisconsin


 Stephanie Jung Dorfman  |    January 13, 2020
2019 Annual Report

One in six children in Wisconsin are food insecure ‚ÄĒ meaning that millions of children lack regular and easy access to the meals they need to thrive. Academic studies reveal that children from food-insecure homes may be more likely to have significantly lower mathematics scores, repeat a grade in elementary school, experience developmental impairments in areas like language and motor skills, have more social and behavioral problems, and be less prepared for the workforce as adults. Hunger can harm children‚Äôs opportunities to reach their full potential and contribute fully to their communities, which affects society as a whole.

These statistics are heartbreaking, but it is with the support of partners like the Wisconsin REALTORS¬ģ Foundation (WRF) that the Feeding Wisconsin network can provide food and resources to support families in need. Feeding Wisconsin is the statewide association of Feeding America food banks; the Feeding America membership includes six food banks, and over 1,000 local food programs in every corner of the state. Last year, our member food banks have distributed over 41 million meals to nearly 550,000 people living in Wisconsin. This continued work is important, not only to the individual children and families served, but to continue to further our mission of fighting hunger, improving health, and most importantly, strengthening communities.

The WRF has been a gracious partner to our network. Over the last two years, the foundation has contributed $100,000 over two years and rallied association members to raise additional funds to fight child hunger throughout our state. In addition, Wisconsin REALTORS¬ģ have donated their time volunteering at food banks and food pantries across the state.

These contributions have been distributed to our regional food banks to support local approaches to ending hunger such as school food pantries, mobile pantries and backpack programs. To date, this funding has enabled an estimated 300,000 meals for those experiencing hunger across the state. In the La Crosse area, funds have helped cover the cost of the mobile pantries or ‚Äúfood fairs‚ÄĚ that provide low-income families with 50 pounds of food every month.

Many children in our community rely on school lunch as a major source of nutrition. When the weekend approaches, they may struggle with having enough to eat, putting them at risk academically and physically. Feed My People Food Bank in Eau Claire addresses this dilemma through its ‚ÄúWeekend Kids‚Äô Meal‚ÄĚ program, which provides meal bags every Friday to 1,800 low-income students. We often hear stories about the impact of this program, including the boy who went to the school office one Friday when his younger sister was out sick. He wanted to be sure he could pick up her bag at the end of the day so she wouldn‚Äôt miss out on the food that weekend. We have heard from children and their sense of pride in helping their family with groceries. In a household that is stressed with trying to make ends meet, it is empowering to be a helper.

With this generous funding, Second Harvest Foodbank of Southern Wisconsin is able to provide a month‚Äôs worth of food, which includes 14,000 meals and 10,000 snacks, to nearly 1,100 kids at 10 ‚ÄúKids Cafes‚ÄĚ in southwestern Wisconsin. Celebrating 20 years in 2019, Second Harvest‚Äôs Kids Cafes provide free meals and snacks to low-income children through a variety of community locations where children already congregate, such as Boys & Girls Club locations. In addition to providing meals to kids, all Kids Cafe programs also offer a safe place, where under the supervision of trustworthy staff, a child can get involved in educational, recreational and social activities. For example, the Vera Court Neighborhood Center Kids Cafe in Madison recently started to incorporate more literacy into its programming. When teaching nutrition, the Vera Court Neighborhood Center volunteers find books that support and encourage healthy eating, trying new foods and foods from different cultures. They also focus on reading recipes, cooking instructions and food labels.

The support of the foundation has enabled Second Harvest Northern Lakes Food Bank in Duluth to provide 172 weekend bags of food serving Wisconsin’s northernmost counties. One child from the food bank’s backpack program shared, “I know you love me because you give me food."

Thank you to the WRA members for making a difference in the lives of our children. It is with your support of time and money that we are able to provide the food and resources our kids need to learn, play and live healthy lives.

Stephanie Jung Dorfman is Executive Director of Feeding Wisconsin.

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