Hunger Task Force helps Indigenous seniors with food insecurity with free ‘Stockbox’ program

Dec 14, 2023

At a Hunger Task Force’s distribution event Thursday, the non-profit provided seniors in the indigenous community with several boxes of food to take home as a part of a larger initiative.

Charlene H. Smith was one of the attendees taking advantage of the Stockbox program, which offers the free service to seniors who have a monthly income of $1,580 or less. “I think it’s great,” Smith said. “You know people get lost in the systems, and so for us to have our own day and pick up time and place that’s pretty prestigious.”

Hunger Task Force CEO Sherrie Tussler said her organization first started its partnership with the Milwaukee area’s tribes Oneida, Menominee, and Ho-Chunk during the pandemic. “If you can imagine Casinos closing everywhere, people going without jobs in mass numbers,” she recalled. Tussler said the partnership continued beyond the stay-at-home orders and mask mandates because issues around food insecurity remained.

“We knew that seniors from the indigenous community weren’t getting adequately served,” she said. “The food stamps program has decreased its total benefit allotment, so a lot of these people are going without basic needs, and we have plenty of food here.”

For Smith, on top of the opportunity to better fill her fridge and cupboards, Thursday’s event was also a good chance to connect with people in her community. “Personally, I like coming here because I get to see everybody I don’t see all the time,” she said. “It’s a big social buzz for me.”

Leaders with the Hunger Task Force said they provide nearly 7,000 seniors, from all backgrounds, with a Stockbox each month in Milwaukee County. They also said many of those seniors face chronic hunger and food insecurity.

There are 162 Stockbox pickup sites in 32 counties in Wisconsin. For home-bound seniors or seniors unable to make it to a location, the Hunger Task Force partners with DoorDash to deliver the boxes free of charge.

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.