ARPA Support Fuels Growth and Efficiency at Wisconsin Food Pantries

Mar 4, 2024

Nestled in the heart of Pepin County, the Durand Area Food Pantry has been a beacon of hope for families facing hunger since the 1980s. Led by dedicated administrator Marcia Bauer, the pantry has not only weathered the pandemic storm but also emerged stronger thanks to its membership in the Hunger Relief Federation of Wisconsin and the transformative power of American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds.

As a statewide leader, Hunger Task Force played a pivotal role in administering millions of dollars in ARPA funds designated for hunger relief across Wisconsin. Partnering with organizations locally and through the Hunger Relief Federation of Wisconsin (HRF) – like the Durand Area Food Pantry – Hunger Task Force helped channel these vital resources into bolstering the capacity and efficiency of Wisconsin’s anti-hunger infrastructure.

“The ARPA funds were a game-changer,” says Bauer. “Thanks to the Hunger Task Force, we were able to acquire a new cooler and freezer, allowing us to accept and preserve more donations than ever before.” This crucial upgrade expanded their storage capacity, enabling them to take on perishable items like local garden produce and cheese donations from the Ellsworth Cooperative Creamery. “Now, we can offer our clients a wider variety of healthy, nutritious food,” she adds.

Beyond food resources, the ARPA funds also allowed the Durand Area Food Pantry to invest in a refrigerated van. Bauer explains, “This van is essential for safely transporting our 50 Badger Boxes from the local hub in Hudson. We couldn’t have done it without the van.” This vital piece of equipment ensures that families in Durand receive the essential food assistance they deserve.

The pantry’s success is further fueled by its collaboration with the Hunger Relief Federation. Bauer emphasizes, “Joining the HRF in 2019 was invaluable. Their expertise and knowledge, particularly during the pandemic, were instrumental in helping us navigate challenges and serve our community effectively. They also provide a vital connection to government and policymakers, ensuring the needs of rural organizations like ours are heard.”

The Durand Area Food Pantry has also embraced a menu-model, empowering clients to choose from available food items based on their dietary needs and preferences. This personalized approach not only reduces food waste but also promotes better health outcomes.

Bauer attributes the pantry’s resilience and success to a dedicated team of volunteers and the unwavering support of the community. “I couldn’t do this job without them,” she declares. “Even during the pandemic, when our volunteers couldn’t come in, we found a way to keep serving our community.”

As the Durand Area Food Pantry looks ahead, they remain steadfast in their commitment to providing food assistance with dignity and respect. With the continued collaboration of the Hunger Relief Federation and the Hunger Task Force, coupled with the impact of ARPA investments, they will undoubtedly continue to thrive as a beacon of hope for families in need.

Hunger Task Force is Milwaukee’s Free & Local food bank and Wisconsin’s anti-hunger leader. The organization’s core values are Dignity, Justice, Equity, Compassion and Stewardship. Hunger Task Force feeds people today by providing healthy and culturally appropriate food to hungry children, families and seniors in the community absolutely free of charge. Hunger Task Force also works to end future hunger by advocating for strong public policies and nutrition programs at the local, state and federal level.