By Hayley Crandall
During these times of uncertainty and changes, one thing that hasn’t faltered is the Hunger Task Force and its dedication to bringing healthy produce to Wisconsin residents.
The food bank and advocacy group will be distributing farmers market vouchers and various available food to qualifying in-need seniors from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Tuesday, July 7.
The vouchers are worth $25 and valid for produce at various Wisconsin farmers markets, according to Rick Lewandowski, the senior services director. The vouchers are available for seniors who meet the following qualifications:
• 60 years or older (55 for Native Americans)
• Monthly income of $1,968 for household of one; income of less than $2,658 for household of two
• Milwaukee County resident
• Printed and completed application (available on Hunger Task Force’s website)
• Valid ID
Distribution takes place in the Miller Park parking lot and will be conducted in a “drive-up” style to limit contact and keep participants as safe as possible. Masks are encouraged and will be available for anyone who needs one.
This voucher distribution is the only happening once this year and spans a four-hour time period, as opposed to previous years, so they’re working to reach as many seniors are possible, said Sarah Kikkert, the communications manager.
“Typically, the distributions last an hour or two,” said Kikkert. “This one we’ve extended so we could serve as many seniors as possible.”
Even the venue location plays a factor in keeping the event accessible. Usually, the distributions take place at churches or senior centers, according to Lewandowski. Moving it to a common, public site like the Miller Park parking lot helps keep it central with enclosed spaces being unavailable.
“The public site aims to keep it as central as possible,” said Kikkert. “It’s to make it viable for the seniors.”
Food that’s readily available will also be distributed along with the vouchers, Kikkert said. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, they have been able to receive food not being used from farmers.
“This year’s distribution mimics previous year’s food distribution, but on a much larger scale,” said Kikkert. “We have kind of a whole slew of different options, mostly due to the pandemic and dairy recovery Hunger Task Force has been doing with farmers.”
Hunger Task Force is also a very food-conscious food bank. It follows the “My Plate” standard, according to Kikkert, and has a heavy focus on getting substantial, healthy food to Wisconsin residents in-need.
Hunger Task Force hosts various other programs throughout the year including a the “Mobile Market,” which brings a grocery store to food deserts. Products are at a discounted rate and provide produce, meat and dairy items provided by local grocers for purchasing.
“We want to make sure the people we are serving feel like they are getting the food they need,” said Kikkert. “And getting the healthiest and most culturally appropriate they need to grow and feed their family.”