Second Harvest Foodbank: Conference convenes to increase FoodShare participation

CONTACT: Kris Tazelaar, Communications Manager, Second Harvest Foodbank, 608-216-7206, [email protected]

STEVENS POINT, Wis., September 14, 2012 — Despite recent increases to FoodShare Wisconsin enrollment, only an estimated 74 percent of eligible households receive FoodShare (formerly food stamps) benefits that put healthy, nutritious food on the table for low-income children, seniors, families, and individuals in need. A statewide conference, called Swipe Out Hunger: Feeding Our Neighbors, Feeding Our Communities, convened today in Stevens Point to address ways to increase participation among eligible households.

Co-hosted by the Wisconsin FoodShare Outreach Network and the Wisconsin Food Security Consortium, the conference brought public and private community partners throughout the state together to learn how to integrate FoodShare outreach activities into their daily business. This year’s sessions included a broad range of practical topics to support outreach and food assistance efforts that are critical to communities during these tough economic times.

“For many families the Great Recession is far from being over, and each month we continue to see thousands turning to FoodShare for the first time in their lives,” said Amy Johnson, Co-Chair of the Wisconsin Food Security Consortium. “There are numerous challenges facing families struggling to get out of poverty, and by helping to lessen the strain of buying food, families are more likely to have enough at the end of the month to pay the rent and not worry about losing their home.”

Representatives from area food banks, emergency food assistance sites, faith-based organizations, county human services, public health network, and community action programs were on hand.

Named for the debit-like card on which FoodShare benefits come (in contrast to the program’s original paper stamps), the Swipe Out Hunger conference focused on strategies to raise awareness of FoodShare benefits, the application process, and everyday outreach activities, as well as skill-building workshops to strengthen the effectiveness of those engaged in addressing hunger in their home communities throughout the state.

According to the USDA for every $5 given out in FoodShare benefits, $9 in local economic activity is generated.

Funded by Feeding America and the USDA’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, the conference included presenters from Wisconsin’s FoodShare program, the Wisconsin Food Security Consortium, Portage County Health and Human Services, University of Wisconsin – Madison, Feeding America, Wisconsin Department of Health Services, AARP Wisconsin and many other organizations.

About the Wisconsin FoodShare Outreach Network
The Wisconsin FoodShare (food stamp) Outreach Network is a network of individuals and organizations dedicated to conducting outreach efforts throughout the state with the goal of enrolling eligible people in FoodShare Wisconsin. Through collective activity and resources, the Network strives to ensure families are able to secure more nutritious foods of their choosing from mainstream sources, such as grocery stores; the burden on emergency food providers to keep up with demand is eased; and local businesses and farmers benefit from the economic impact when FoodShare dollars are spent within their communities.

About the Wisconsin Food Security Consortium
The Wisconsin Food Security Consortium, representing diverse sectors in the fight against hunger, is dedicated to the elimination of food insecurity in Wisconsin. The Consortium serves as a forum to develop and promote effective solutions through networking, education, collaboration, new partnerships and public policy that measurably reduce hunger.

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