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Thursday, May 23, 2024
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A Family enjoys lunch at Little John's Lunchbox in the Madison Children's Museum | Photo by Andy Manis

Dane County awards $41,000 to 15 local organizations fighting food insecurity

Recipients of the money through the Partners in Equity Food Project will help increase access to healthy food in Dane County.

Fifteen local organizations will receive grants to fight food insecurity in Dane County, the county executive's office announced on April 8. 

The money, totaling $41,000, was made available this year through the Partners in Equity Food Project (PIE), spearheaded by the Dane County Office for Equity and Inclusion. The program is meant to advance the goals of the Dane County Food Council, a committee that creates recommendations for sustainable food systems in the County. 

Dane County experiences a 6.1% food insecurity rate, according to Feeding America.

“Through the PIE Food Grant Program, we are forming community partnerships to create a stronger local food system,” Dane County Executive Joe Parisi said in a press release earlier this month. 

Recipient organizations were selected based on proposals intended to address issues related to healthy food access, access to land for growing food or issues related to food waste and recovery, according to Parisi’s office.

“The work that we're trying to do is really get people to work together towards common goals,” said Noah Bloedorn, a member of the Dane County Food Collective, which received a $2,000 grant through PIE. “I think in Dane County, we have really passionate individuals within the system, especially related to food systems. We have a real food culture here.” 

“What we're trying to do is really build collective power and empower individuals to make those changes within the system,” Bloedorn added. 

The Madison Children's Museum received $4,000 for its pay-what-you-can cafe, Little John’s Lunchbox, a partnership with local chef Dave Heide’s food access group Little John’s Kitchens. Visitors to the museum can enter the cafe without having to pay admission and have six different entree options for patrons to choose from. Meals are kept cold, but microwaves are provided to heat them. 

“The pay-what-you-can cafe ensures no child will need to play on an empty stomach,” said Jonathan Zarov, the museum’s director of marketing and communications. He added that funding from the grant “will go towards stocking the cafe with nutritious food and treats.” 

The Dane County Food Collective’s plan for their money involves creating a podcast, according to a press release. 

The podcast would increase community engagement by interviewing farmers, activists and other members of the food collective and bringing their perspectives toward the public. Bloedorn said this could open the door for more collaboration between the community and the outlets that provide them food. 

“The PIE grant allows us to expand on our work that we'll be doing to do community engagement, specifically with food entrepreneurs in Dane County,” Bloedorn said. “What we're trying to do is really build collective power and empower individuals to make those changes within the system.”

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Gabriella Hartlaub

Gabriella Hartlaub is an arts editor for the Daily Cardinal. She also reports state politics and life & style stories. Follow her on Twitter at @gabihartlaub.

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