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Hunger In Wisconsin Doesn't Take a Summer Vacation

PHOTO: Dan Stein, president of Second Harvest Foodbank, says summer can be a tough time for kids who are used to being fed at school. When school is in summer recess, children still have the same food needs and many parents have to rely on food banks to help feed their children. (Photo by Second Harvest)
PHOTO: Dan Stein, president of Second Harvest Foodbank, says summer can be a tough time for kids who are used to being fed at school. When school is in summer recess, children still have the same food needs and many parents have to rely on food banks to help feed their children. (Photo by Second Harvest)
June 9, 2014

MADISON, Wis. – To some, summer means picnics and outdoor grilling, but for thousands of children in Wisconsin, it's a time of missed meals and hunger.

Dan Stein is president of Second Harvest Foodbank in Madison, which serves 16 counties in southern and southwestern Wisconsin. To him, summer means a double dose of problems.

"Donations are usually much lower in the summer, so that causes some concern,” he explains. “But at the same time, the need actually increases in the summer because so many children rely on being fed while they're in school. They still have the same needs but can't rely on school."

Second Harvest Foodbank serves 141,000 Wisconsinites who struggle with hunger, and Stein says 43 percent of them are children.

According to Stein, most food banks have three big needs in the summertime – money, food and the need for people to be aware that summer is a hard time for many children who struggle with hunger.

He says donations of nutritious food are always welcome, but cold, hard cash does more good.

"Money allows an organization like ours to leverage that donation and use our sources to raise food, and we're much more successful in quantity than if you went to a grocery store and just donated the food you purchased there," Stein explains.

Stein says donating time by volunteering to work at a food bank is also another way people can get involved in the fight against hunger.

Even though huge food bank operations in Wisconsin such as Second Harvest are able to acquire and distribute literally hundreds of tons of food, the needs are much greater than the supply.

"When we move millions and millions of pounds of food every year, we're just scratching the surface,” Stein says. “We provided last year, through all the work we did, about 13 million – and there's still an estimated 24 million meals in southern Wisconsin that are necessary to move people from food insecure to food secure."


Tim Morrissey, Public News Service - WI