November 16, 2023
The ThankFULL Project Sponsor Story
Thanks to The Ulrich Trust, $100,000 is available in matching funds to The ThankFULL Project. This c...
In the face of rising need Feed My People is providing food and hope in the Chippewa Valley.
By Suzanne Becker
Recently during a Monday evening food distribution, I met a mother with tears in her eyes, struggling to make eye contact with me. She shared that she had never done this before, but she needed to do what she could for her kids and that meant food for their table. She had raced from work to daycare and then to the food bank. Prices were high and if she could get food assistance, she could direct her limited funds to help pay for daycare. She was one of many parents there that night, trying to do what was best for their families during a difficult time. The gratitude was heard loud and clear. I wondered if she knew how glad I was to be there with her. Seeing her kid's wide eyes as they spied the apples that were being bagged up for them made me thankful to be a part of the critical work Feed My People Food Bank is doing every day.
Last month the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) released its annual report: Household Food Security in the United States, showing the number of people living in food insecure households in 2022 saw a 31% increase from 2021. For children, the increase was 44%. This is the highest rate and number since 2014 and the largest one-year increase since 2008. This falls in line with what Feed My People and our partners are seeing every day. As of the end of September, we have provided food to as many individuals as we did all last year.
This increase in need comes at a time of high food and transportation costs along with a significant decrease in donated food nationwide, which has forced food banks, including Feed My People, to purchase more food. Our staff and board recognize that this is not a sustainable solution. Instead, we need to be innovative by engaging new collaborators with a continuous goal of being good stewards of our resources. Our new Farm to Food Bank initiative creates win-win relationships with local growers ensuring the viability of fresh food by shortening the food supply line while investing in our local economy and decreasing our carbon footprint. We are working to sustain and expand projects like Project FEED (Food Equity Education Dignity), an initiative working to ensure every child in west central Wisconsin has access to nutritious food. Additionally, a focus on nutritious, single-serving items helps us better reach our seniors and unhoused folks, and evening distributions make food more accessible for working families.
None of this is possible without you, our community. It takes a collaborative team of donors, volunteers, agency partners, farmers, media, and so much more. We will never underestimate the power of collaboration.
As we approach the holiday season, it is the perfect time to reflect on our blessings and share the spirit of thankfulness. We've launched a campaign called The ThankFULL Project to encourage giving back to your local community so that all can celebrate the holidays with a full heart and full plate. From November 14 to November 28, the Ulrich Trust is matching donations up to $100,000 to help fund groceries and programs supporting those experiencing food insecurity. We are also offering many opportunities to volunteer throughout the season.
When you participate in opportunities to volunteer, give financially, and share the message of our neighbors who are struggling, you are partnering with us to make west central Wisconsin a better place to live for everyone. We encourage you to look around and see the good that surrounds us every day and express your gratitude for the people and resources in your life. If you are able to give financially or share your time as a volunteer, please do. If you are struggling, please reach out. Together we hope to spark thankfulness and generosity so all our neighbors facing food insecurity have full plates this holiday season and beyond.
Please know that we are thankful for you.
Suzanne Becker is the Executive Director of Feed My People Food Bank which partners with over 260 hunger relief programs in 14 counties located in west central Wisconsin to help provide food to over 70,000 residents who are food insecure.