Hunger Task Force brings groceries on wheels to those living in Milwaukee County’s food deserts

Dec 11, 2023

The long winter months present an extra challenge to those living with food insecurity, but volunteers with the Hunger Task Force hope to take away the concerns of people living in Milwaukee County’s food deserts. 

It’s a grocery store on wheels and it creates quite a buzz when it pulls up. “That’s not the last bacon, is it? Please don’t say,” said Earnice Jamison, shopper. A wide assortment of food fills the bus front to back, and so does the line of customers. “And then I like the half price when they do that,” said Jamison. 

The Hunger Task Force Mobile Market, partnering with Piggly Wiggly, was rolling and ready for its monthly stop outside the College Court senior apartments Monday afternoon. “We’ve been doing this for eight years. They told us when we started that it wouldn’t work and it would fail, that low-income people did not want to eat well. That turned out to not be true,” said Sherrie Tussler, Hunger Task Force CEO. What is true is that healthy eating is selling in the 53208 ZIP code.

“Most of the time it just be a few items I get off the truck, like butter or onions, or celery or bell pepper, something like that,” said Marian Moore, Hunger Task Force volunteer and mobile market shopper. Many of these shoppers would otherwise be taking a bus or relying on family to get them to the grocery store.

“I love cold weather, don’t get me wrong. But if it’s snowing and it’s real bad and real cold, if we don’t have transportation, it’s better than having to catch a bus,” said Jamison. Donors make it possible for the sale of fresh produce, dairy and meat in the mobile market, all 50% off, even down to the Christmas ham.

“Everything is expensive today, especially with bills, and you on a fixed income, it stretches but only so far,” said Jamison. While it’s half-price groceries outside, these seniors are getting non-perishable items inside for free. “Can of beans, bag of potatoes,” said Moore.

Marian Moore also volunteers for the Hunger Task Force, packing these boxes for seniors. “Sometimes, you know, some residents they may run out, you know, run short. And this come in handy, sort of fill in the gap,” said Moore. “The Stockbox build has become one of our favorite things for companies to do because you have to work together,” said Rick Lewandowski, Hunger Task Force senior services director. People often sign up with coworkers to volunteer to put together those boxes.

Low-income seniors must qualify to get one, but the mobile market is open to all. You can check their website to see the schedule for their mobile markets here

Hunger Task Force is Milwaukee’s Free & Local food bank and Wisconsin’s anti-hunger leader. The organization provides healthy and nutritious food to hungry children, families and seniors in the community absolutely free of charge. Hunger Task Force was founded in 1974 by a local advocacy group who then formed Milwaukee’s first food bank. Today, Hunger Task Force is 100% supported by the community and provides a safety net of emergency food with dignity to a network of 75 food pantries, soup kitchens and homeless shelters. Through legislative analysis, education and community organizing, Hunger Task Force continues to advocate for anti-hunger policy at the local, state and federal level.