NBC15 Share Your Holidays kickoff luncheon shows the difference we all can make

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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) -- A luncheon at the Alliant Energy Center showed how one lunch can make a difference to eliminate hunger in Southern Wisconsin.

2019 NBC15 Share Your Holidays kickoff luncheon on Nov. 6.

The NBC15 Share Your Holidays kickoff luncheon on Wednesday highlights how every “one” can make a difference. It was hosted by NBC15 and the Second Harvest Foodbank of Southern Wisconsin.

Over the past 23 years, NBC15 Share Your Holidays campaign has raised more than 45 million meals. During those years, there were many “ones” that made a positive impact on communities throughout Southern Wisconsin.

2018 had a record-setting 4.45 million meals.

2019’s goal is 4.5 million meals. The meals benefit Second Harvest Foodbank of Southern Wisconsin and will help a growing number of families and individuals who face food insecurities. With Second Harvest's buying power, every dollar donated provides three meals to those in need.

One gift can make a difference. You can donate online now to eliminate hunger in your community.

The impact of hunger in Southwestern Wisconsin

“I wish I had five dollars for every time I heard the term ‘those people,’ I would have retired years ago,” said Dan Stein, outgoing President and CEO of Second Harvest Foodbank of Southern Wisconsin. “ ‘Those people’ are our neighbors, our friends, maybe family. ‘Those people’ are us.”

An extensive hunger study was done on the communities served by Second Harvest. According to the organization, one in ten people struggle with food insecurities in Southwestern Wisconsin. One in six children do not know when they will get their next meal.

“The majority of families we serve today has someone in their household who has a full time job,” said Stein. “To say the majority we serve is unemployed is not correct. The majority of people we work with are working. Unfortunately, that study also shows a majority people of receiving support have an annual income of $20,000 or less.”

During NBC15 Share Your Holidays campaign, each dollar raised provides three meals to those struggling with hunger.

Stein said it is often choosing to pay utility bills over food and paying for gas to get to their jobs instead of a meal.

New leadership at Second Harvest Foodbank of Southern Wisconsin

Dan Stein has been the CEO and President Second Harvest Foodbank of Southern Wisconsin for nearly 11 years. At the end of 2019, he is retiring.

Under his leadership, the organization went from raising a little more than $2 million each year to a budgeted $5.75 million for the 2020 fiscal year. They have provided nearly 117 million pounds of food to those who need it.

When Stein began his tenure as CEO and President, Second Harvest of Southern Wisconsin distributed about 5.5 million meals each year, they now distribute more than 15 million meals. After 11 years at Second Harvest, Stein said there is still more work to be done.

“120,000 people in Southern Wisconsin that are still struggling," said Stein. "We have a lot of work we need to do and we can’t rest on what we’ve accomplished, we have to look forward.”

Michelle Orge will be replacing Stein, but she is already officially on the job. She has 20 years of experience working a variety of leadership roles at food banks in Michigan and Colorado.

“I have a pretty simple vision, I would like to have a stronger community through food,” said Orge.

She said one blueberry can make a difference, and communities in the 16 counties served by Second Harvest Foodbank of Southern Wisconsin need the organization and need everyone’s help to eliminate hunger. The NBC15 Share Your Holidays campaign is one way to make a difference.

“You may give because your heart tells you hunger is wrong, but you also may give because you want the community to be better for everyone,” said Orge. “Know that when one person struggles with hunger, we all do, and what you are doing helps us address this issue.”

“Be Like Mike”

24 years ago, NBC15’s late anchor Mike McKinney had a mission to eliminate hunger in the Madison community. At the luncheon, the 2019 “Be Like Mike” honorees were announced.

In 2013, Katie Freeman was at a grocery store and saw an NBC15 Share Your Holidays campaign poster and decided to make a difference by coordinating a food and fund drive at her work.

Freeman and her company, Bluetree Network, have donated more than 117,500 meals since 2014. She is known for her annual "brinner" fundraiser in which she cooks breakfast for dinner to raise money for the campaign.

“The idea of fighting hunger is an important one to me. I appreciate everything that Bluetree Network does in supporting Share Your Holidays," Freeman said.

Another "Be Like Mike" honoree is a company who has contributed more than 310,000 meals to the campaign over the past ten years. Every week during the campaign, Ho-Chunk Gaming Madison donates thousands of pounds of food to the Second Harvest warehouse.

Ho-Chunk Gaming Madison has also helped sort food at the Grand Finale event in December.

“Ho-Chunk Gaming Madison wants to do what we can to eradicate food insecurity, which is a simple, basic human right,”said Missy Tracy, Municipal Relations Coordinator with Ho-Chunk Gaming Madison.“We feel it is our responsibility to do what we can.”

For more information on the NBC15 Share Your Holidays campaign, click here

Feast of Five Chefs

The Feast of Five Chefs still has about 40 tickets available. Five of the Executive Chefs will be crafting a 5-course meal, designed to showcase skills and the fall season’s flavors.

Each $110 ticket will include a cocktail, hors-d'oeuvres, 5-course menu, wine pairings, tax, gratuity and parking in the building’s parking lot.

You can learn more on their website here.


2019 "Be Like Mike" honoree Katie Freeman.
2019 "Be Like Mike" honoree Ho-Chunk Gaming Madison
Michelle Orge, the new President and CEO of Second Harvest Foodbank of Southern Wisconsin, speaks at the 2019 NBC15 Share Your Holidays kickoff luncheon.
Dan Stein, the outgoing President and CEO of Second Harvest Foodbank of Southern Wisconsin, speaks at the 2019 NBC15 Share Your Holidays kickoff luncheon.