Dane County executive Joe Parisi signed a resolution at a press conference held at Badger Prairie Needs Network on Wednesday, June 24, that gives Second Harvest Foodbank of Southern Wisconsin an additional $3 million in funding.
The county had previously agreed to give the organization $1 million per month from May through July to assist with funding during the pandemic. The new resolution extended that monthly agreement through October.
“Unfortunately, the pandemic is not letting up, as we enter the third month of our partnership with Second Harvest,” Parisi said. “As we know all too well now, COVID-19 has and will continue to impact communities in many ways – people who were not experiencing need for food assistance before who need it now.”
Parisi said that there have been 38,000 claims for unemployment in Dane County since the pandemic began. He stated the county has a goal of building bridges between producers and farmers, and that food producers are experiencing challenges themselves as their supply chains and markets have disappeared as a result of the pandemic.
“We want to get more and more food dollars into local markets and get as much local food as possible to pantries and out to people who need it so much,” he said. “We are in this for the long run, and this is a critical piece.”
Michelle Orge, president and CEO of Second Harvest, said during the press conference that her organization has distributed 55% more food from March 15 to now than from mid-March to this point of last year.
She said Second Harvest has been working with over 30 different producers and farmers and that the investment from the county will help bring over 2 million pounds of food into the organization, which it will deliver to its food bank and pantry partners across Dane County.
Orge said the commitment from the county is an example of the lengths it will go to serve the community.
“Health begins at the dinner table and having enough access to food. These partners are the true faces of hunger relief, providing a smile and sense of hope for people going through difficulties right now,” Orge said.