Healthy Food for All is a community based, grassroots project to ensure all Dane County children and families can access affordable, healthy and culturally appropriate food to achieve better health outcomes and a higher quality of life.
We function both as a network of existing community organizations and also as a membership organization for activists interested in the work. Collaboration with a broad set of community partners is the basis of our work and will only grow in importance as the project scales up. The immense need we face requires the participation of all people of good will who are willing to do their part to fight hunger.
In that spirit, HFFA also seeks to be a home for volunteers and activists with a special interest in this area of work. Many County residents are keenly aware of these issues and just as keen to help but need a way to plug into the movement. We are organizing and mobilizing residents across the County to build the movement to ensure Healthy Food For All!
Our project builds on the work of many fine organizations and activists who’ve committed many years to this critical effort. In particular, we draw inspiration and guidance from the Healthy Food For All Children plan originally commissioned by the United Way of Dane County and the Goodman Foundation. We plan to lead implementation of certain elements of the original HFFA plan while developing additional new and innovation ideas for meeting our goals.
Vision and Goals
Our vision is of a Dane County where all children and families can access all the affordable, healthy and culturally appropriate food they need to achieve better health outcomes and a higher quality of life.
Drawing directly from the original HFFA plan, we share the goal of increasing access to and consumption of healthy food for all children in Dane County, especially children in low income households, in order to decrease the number of food insecure children by 50 percent (from 18,720 to 9,360) by 2023.
We know we can’t achieve this ambitious goal alone. In fact, most of the work to meet this goal will be carried out by community partners with specific skills and greater resources. One area of special focus for our work will be to improve and expand infrastructure for movement, storage, production and processing/transformation to maximize availability of fresh food.
Since the first of the year, we’ve processed 58,079 pounds of ready to eat food and 19,752 pounds of produce for distribution at local food pantries.
Dane County has an array of food pantries that provide an important source of fresh food for families. However, many have strict limits on how many visits a family can make in a month and or have limited hours of operation. Even those services that provide for multiple visits each month lack the capacity to make larger quantities of healthy foods available each time they are open.
As a result, much of our initial efforts will be to enhancing the capacity of the organizations supplying those programs to allow for better just-in-time delivery of fresh healthy foods to be distributed.
We are also implementing new and innovative programs to create additional distribution channels for fresh produce to get to families in need.
Finally, we also work to increase low income families engagement in the food movement as activists and entrepreneurs in order to support family self sufficiency and provide more direct access to the local food economy.
Our initial organizing efforts will build on existing projects and efforts. While we are starting with a focused approach, we do intend to broaden and expand out operations to be a home for other related projects. We plan to scale up infrastructure, remain nimble and adaptable, and incorporate more elements into our core operations as soon as resources permit.
Aggregation, Cleaning and Packing
The initial primary focus of our work is the aggregation, cleaning, packing and distribution of fresh, local produce donated or specifically produced for the food pantry network. Our goal is to significantly expand the volume of fresh local produce available to pantries in a format convenient and familiar to consumers.
Working at the FEED Kitchens, we aggregate produce from multiple existing sources and intend to expand outreach efforts to local farmers to ramp up the total volume available. Produce is cleaned, sorted and packed in family sized portions to facilitate distribution. Cleaned and packed produce is then distributed to pantries and through other new channels.
Free Vegetables for School Children
Our Free Vegetables for School Children project is one example of the alternative distribution channels we are developing. Due to pantries’ limited hours and storage capacities, additional
ways to distribute fresh produce directly to needy neighbors are required to maintain a steady flow especially at the height of the season. FVSC sorts cleaned produce into CSA style bags which are then distributed by community partners directly to households in low income neighborhoods.
Food Waste Reduction Initiative
Working in tandem with the Dane County Food Council and Madison Food Policy Council, we are developing plans for gleaning, aggregating and distributing other forms of surplus food that is otherwise going to waste.
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