While we may think of food pantries and free meal sites around the holidays, the reality is that a number of households in Dane County, many of them with children, struggle to put food on the table all year long. When a household is food secure, it means that they have regular, guaranteed access to enough food at all times so that everyone in the household can lead a healthy and active life. Increasing food security helps with person pushing shopping cart in grocery aislechildhood development, and is linked to a lowered risk of obesity and chronic disease for adults.

Overall, about 10% of households and about 14% of children in Dane County are food insecure, meaning they are unsure where their next meal is coming from. While the rates of food insecurity for whites in Dane County are lower than the United States as a whole, we see a great disparity in rates for Hispanic and African-American households. We know that income, access to transportation, and availability of food stores all impact a household’s ability to find healthy food.

We work with community partners on strategies and policies to improve the food security and nutrition of our community. Through these collaborations we have helped to expand free summer meals for children from low-income neighborhoods, provided incentives for people to buy fresh, local foods at Farmers’ Markets, supported retail outlets to locate in low-income areas and to provide culturally relevant foods, and established universal screening for food insecurity at all pediatric physicals with Dane County health care providers.

During 2020, we look forward to supporting more projects like this in order to ensure equitable food access to all in Dane County. You can be a part of that change as well. Volunteer your time or donate at any time of the year to food banks and other organizations that are a part of our emergency food system. United Ways’ 2-1-1 can help you determine which agencies need help and when. You can also get involved by supporting efforts to improve economic security, transportation, and access to affordable and nutritious food for Dane County households.

This content is free for use with credit to the City of Madison - Public Health Madison & Dane County and a link back to the original post.