Dane Co. to provide $3 million in funding for Second Harvest

Published: Apr. 30, 2020 at 10:33 AM CDT
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Three million dollars of Dane County funding will now go to help Second Harvest Foodbank of Southern Wisconsin acquire food for Dane County food pantries over the next 90 days.

The goal is to help both local food banks and Dane County farmers.

Dane County Executive Joe Parisi announced the partnership on Thursday morning at the Alliant Energy Center.

"This partnership allows us to address the falling demand facing farmers along with the rising need facing thousands of people within our community," said Parisi. "Our farmers need access to markets and our residents need access to food."

The funding comes from the federal government's CARES Act. Parisi says the decision to allocate the money in this way would benefit both Dane County residents and area farmers.

"We were able to come up with a way that gets that food out immediately but we were able to purchase a large portion of it from our farmers who are in need right now," Parisi explained.

Dane County Dairy and Pork Producers, the Dane County Farmer’s market, and the Fairshare CSA Coalition is joining the effort to ensure more products are bought directly from farmers and growers in the area.

Sarah Elliott, with the Dane County Farmer's Market, said there's a lot of uncertainty for farmers right now.

"Farmers don’t know what to expect and for the county to be supporting them in this way is truly amazing," said Elliott. "They’re going to keep growing food and they’re going to keep raising food."

The county will also acquire four cold storage semi-trailers to store more meat, dairy, and fresh produce grown and produced in Dane County.

Second Harvest Foodbank President and CEO Michelle Orge says since the COVID-19 pandemic began, there is a heightened level of food insecurity.

"The funding that could not have come at a better time," said Orge. "In order to provide enough food to meet the significant surge in need, the cost to do our work has risen sharply."

Orge says many farmers have donated to Second Harvest Foodbank in the past, whenever they've had a surplus. She says now is a time to give support back.

"We don’t want to add farmers to the list of people that we’re serving," Orge said. "We want to be able to have them help us serve people."

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