November 20, 2023
Executive Director Ellen Carlson’s Wisconsin State Journal column emphasizes growing need
WayForward Resources Executive Director Ellen Carlson wrote a guest column published online by the Wisconsin State Journal that addresses the dramatic increase in need food pantries in Dane County are seeing and how the community can help.
“Visits to our food pantry, which serves all of Dane County, have more than tripled since January 2022. We are now distributing the equivalent of 125,000 meals each month,” Carlson wrote in the column that will appear in the print edition on Wednesday, Nov. 22.
Carlson shared that the demand shows now sign of going away and that experts point to pandemic-era support, general inflation and the steep increase in housing costs that cause people to focus even more of their income on paying rent.
“We have never turned anyone away, but we have had to put some limits on the amount of food people can take,” Carlson wrote. “We worry about how we and other local food pantries can continue to ensure that everyone in our community has access to nutritious food.”
In addition Carlson addresses the misconception is that food pantries operate mainly with state or federal support. She notes that only a small amount of food comes in through the federal Emergency Food Assistance Program. WayForward stocks its shelves by relying on a complex web of systems and collaborations. That includes strategic partnerships with Second Harvest Foodbank of Southern Wisconsin, surplus from local grocery and convenience stores, as well as monetary and food donations from businesses, foundations, churches and individuals.
“Food pantries need your support now more than ever. Donations of money, food and your time can all make an immediate difference,” she wrote, adding that she wants people in our community to know food pantries will be there to prove a safety net.
“We must come together to make sure food pantries can continue to keep our neighbors from experiencing hunger,” she wrote.