Local Seniors Look for Solutions After Badger Box Funding Ends
Wisconsin legislators voted down measure to add funding to the state budget
A pandemic-era resource is ending, leaving thousands of people across Wisconsin looking for new solutions. For the last few years, Willie Seward-Fowlkes looked forward to her monthly Badger Box. “The Badger Box is so well put together. It just gives you a feeling of love, a feeling of confidence. And if they don’t happen, they’re going to be missed,” said Seward-Fowlkes. This week, she received her last one.
“When you’re used to getting something that, you know, that’s going to benefit you, and then all of a sudden, you can’t get it? You’re at a loss because this is something that you depended on,” said Seward-Fowlkes.
The Badger Box program started during the pandemic to help Wisconsinites keep food on the table. Earlier this year, the Wisconsin legislature voted down a measure that would add Badger Box funding to the state budget. As a result, nearly 14,000 Wisconsin households lost access to the service.
“All of those products were very unlike the typical foods you’d see at a food pantry or senior dining site where you’re going to see canned goods, dry milk, that government cheese. This was real food from Wisconsin, and it helps so many people feel dignified and excited about getting the help that they needed,” said Sherrie Tussler, Executive Director of Hunger Task Force.
Tussler says her team is now working to make up for the loss. “There are some spaces out there in the rural and remote places of Wisconsin, where there isn’t going to be any other phone to replace what is there. Hunger Task Force is lucky enough to be able to offer additional foods but they won’t be nearly as beautiful or yummy or exciting,” said Tussler.
But, she knows they can’t do it alone. Deborah Lewis also received Badger Boxes during the pandemic. Lewis says she wants to see lawmakers in Madison help her fellow seniors. “When they make budgets and they cut programs, where they think it’s not going to hurt anybody, but it does. And those boxes helped a lot of people, you know, in inner city, seniors in apartment buildings, and that’s who has to look at what they’re doing,” said Lewis.
Officials at the Hunger Task Force wrote a letter to the Secretary of Agriculture asking for help and encouraging anyone who wants to share their thoughts to do the same.
By: Elaine Rojas-Castillo, WTMJ-TV Milwaukee