Fresh Solutions for Summer Hunger

Rural Pop-Up Pantries and Fresh Food Programs are Bridging Service Gaps

Now that summer is here, many families are facing increased food insecurity with the absence of school meal programs. However, one of the most exciting developments is the impact our Farm to Food Bank initiative is making on Feed My People's summer hunger programming. Because of our expanding partnerships with local farmers and distributors, we can source items like melons and potatoes harvested in our area. Produce is essential, but it can be unattainable to purchase from the store due to its generally higher cost. It is regularly received with enthusiasm from our guests.

"I am living on one income in a household of seven," shared Val at a recent pop-up in Eau Claire. "Getting the fruit and veggies is so great. The kids love it."

Addressing Service Gaps in Rural Communities

This spring, we began providing pop-up pantries in Granton, Weyerhauser, and Radisson, which are located in Clark, Rusk, and Sawyer counties. These rural communities have an exceptionally high number of low-income households but lack enough essential resources like grocery stores. High food prices and significant transportation costs further compound this issue. By bringing food directly to these underserved areas, we are helping to alleviate some of the most pressing challenges these families face. We also continue to offer pop-ups in Arcadia, Cadott, Fall Creek, Humbird, Independence, and Spooner, as well as regular distributions out of our food bank in Eau Claire.

Special Initiatives: Mobile Produce Hub

Another key component of our strategy this summer is piloting a mobile produce hub, which will deliver fresh produce to a designated dropoff spot in the northeastern corner of our service area. Partners can pick up produce directly from our truck, which will be stocked with items harvested just one to two days prior and obtained from the Central Wisconsin Produce Auction. This initiative will ensure that the healthiest and most nutritious options are available to even the more remote corners of our service area.

Strengthening Local Food Systems with LFPA

We are also proud to announce our partnership with the Wisconsin Local Food Purchase Assistance (LFPA) Program, which aims to strengthen local food systems and support Wisconsin farmers. One of its latest developments has connected us with local Hmong farmers to provide fresh food, such as bok choy and mushrooms, directly to one of our key partners, the Eau Claire Area Hmong Mutual Assistance Association. This partnership ensures that any Hmong neighbors struggling with food insecurity can receive food meeting their cultural and dietary needs.

Join Us in the Fight Against Hunger This Summer

Please visit our website for more information about our pop-up pantry schedule and how you can get involved. Look for the volunteer pack-a-thon on July 16 during Operation Picnic to help pack as much food as possible for the summer. Together, we can combat summer hunger and build a healthier, stronger community. 

This article was originally published in Feed My People's Summer 2024 newsletter. Read the full newsletter.  

Fresh Solutions for Summer Hunger