More people in the Verona area will qualify for Badger Prairie Needs Network’s services following changes at the state level.
Earlier this month, the state Department of Health Services announced it had changed the eligibility requirements for TEFAP from a threshold of 185% of the Federal Poverty Level up to 300%.
As a result of those changes, now in a single-person household, an income of less than $38,280 in a year qualifies for the benefits. Under the previous threshold, income had to be under $23,60 a year to qualify.
The pantry, which typically serves residents of the 53593 zip code and Verona Area School District, responded to the pandemic by expanding its service area to include any household in Dane County that is food insecure or needs food assistance.
Through September 30, everyone in the county will be able to access emergency food assistance at BPNN.
Marcia Kasieta, executive director of Badger Prairie Needs Network, said the food bank is ready to meet the increased demand.
“We’re all in and we’re serving all of Dane County right now, but it’s been surprisingly slow, and not as many people are coming to the pantry as we’d like,” she said.
Kasieta said she thinks the $1,200 stimulus check and extended unemployment payouts have reduced traffic at the pantry, and she’s worried food may go to waste.
“We’d like more people to come. We don’t want anyone to go hungry,” she said. “Dane County invested six million dollars into Second Harvest, for fresh farm produce, there’s going to be a lot of food hitting the system in the next few months, a lot of fresh foods totally free to us.”
Kasieta said the process to get food through the pantry is simple. Since March, the food bank has operated on an entirely drive-through model. She said people just need to bring ID and any document that proves they live in Dane County. They can self-identify that they make less than the 300% of the Federal Poverty Level.
The pantry is open four days a week, from 10 a.m. to noon Tuesdays, Fridays, Saturdays and 11 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. Thursdays.
“The drive-up service is efficient, people don’t have to leave their car,” she said. “There is a huge amount of food coming into the network and we have got to move it. There’s no reason to not come get the food, we encourage people to come, there’s plenty of bandwidth.”