A Healthier Wisconsin

Food Banks as Community Food Hubs in Eastern Wisconsin

Embedding strategies into food systems to improve access to healthy, local foods especially for food pantries

Full Project Name:Eastern Wisconsin Food Banks Serving as Community-wide Food Hubs to Increase Healthy OfferingsPrimary Community Organization:Feeding America Eastern WisconsinPrimary Academic Partner:David Nelson, PhD, Family and Community MedicineAward Amount:$251,134
Award Date
Project Duration:30 months

Project Description Narrative:

Changing a fragmented local food and conventional food system to increase local fruit and vegetable access among economically and/or socially marginalized individuals requires innovative thinking and processes. To address a community prioritized need to increase local healthy food access for marginalized individuals, Feeding America Eastern Wisconsin and partners have developed Farm Link, a community food hub operated and managed by Feeding America Eastern Wisconsin (FAEW). Farm Link will serve as a mechanism to connect local producers to institutional buyers and hunger-relief programs, integrating Farm Link into an existing food bank to align resources and provide diverse healthy food options to underserved populations.

Community partners:
Winnebago County Health Department, Live54218, Oshkosh Area Community Pantry, ThedaCare, Bellin Health, Green Bay Area Public Schools, Menasha Joint School District, SLO Farmers Co-op, Ledgeview Farms, Olden Produce

Outcomes & Lessons Learned:

  • 154 agencies received product from Farm Link producers across 28 counties; 111 institutional buyers; 23 producers

  • 123,012 pounds (approximately 656,000 servings) of fresh produce has gone to hunger relief agencies from beginning of project

  • Feeding America Eastern Wisconsin (FAEW) has formally adopted Farm Link into long-term strategic plan

  • FAEW is implementing a system to track differentiated product (intentional v. indiscriminate) to better understand and make strategic decisions in sourcing products focused on categories referred to as ?Foods to Encourage,? including fresh produce, lean protein and dairy, etc.

  • FarmLink added new farmers to the system

  • Additional regional markets were established throughout eastern WI

  • New institutional buyers utilized the FarmLink system

  • FAEW adopted change in the strategic sourcing of produce through FarmLink sources

  • FAEW created a new permanent position to oversee FarmLink activities

  • Food pantries gained significant access to produce from FarmLink farmers

  • FarmLink developed partnerships to continue system change over the next several years as FarmLink 2.0 takes shape

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8701 W Watertown Plank Road,
Milwaukee, WI 53226-0509
(414) 955-4350