The WISCAP network, while committed to long-term, structural approaches to the elimination of poverty, is also mindful of the immediate concerns and fears of low-income citizens. Food insecurity is one such very real and present problem; occurring when, for a variety of reasons, households cannot afford or are uncertain of having sufficient food.
According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), there are more than 50 million Americans facing hunger, about 17 million of which are children. That amounts to 14.9% of all Americans, while 5.7% have very low food security.
For those facing food insecurity, 13 WISCAP member agencies, along with three non-member partners, connect households with an array of federal programs and other resources. Helping to meet the nutritional needs of low-income households are:
- The Emergency Food Assistance program (TEFAP): Community Action Agencies coordinate monthly distribution of United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) commodities in 69 Wisconsin counties.
- FoodShare Outreach: This program provides a debit card for income-eligible households that can be used for food purchases at grocery stores.
- Summer Food Service Program: Low-income children are provided with meals during the times of the year that they don’t have access to school meals.
- Women, Infants and Children (WIC): This program offers food vouchers and nutrition information for pregnant women, infants and children of low-income households.
- Community and Home Gardening: WISCAP member agencies provide support for community gardening endeavors and projects that distribute garden seed to low-income families’ home gardening.
In 2011, WISCAP members and their partners coordinated the distribution of 14 million pounds of government commodities, with a value of $8.7 million, to food pantries and others. The food pantries served almost 200,000 meals monthly, on average, in 71 counties.