Hunger Task Force is Ensuring Senior Nutrition and Well-Being in a Post-Pandemic Economy

May 20, 2024

In February 2023, Wisconsin families and seniors faced a reduction in their FoodShare benefits due to the end of the federal program providing additional assistance during the COVID-19 pandemic. Over a year later, the end of these benefits meant a significant loss in purchasing power for many Wisconsinites, including 85-year-old Greendale resident Judith Juszczyski.

Throughout her life, Judith Juszczyski has navigated financial limitations. Following her husband’s passing, maintaining a healthy diet on a fixed income proved particularly challenging. “I’ve had some hard times. I know what it means to struggle,” she reflects. While Social Security and Medicare provided some support, purchasing nutritious groceries remained a constant concern.

With a monthly income of $1,669, a significant portion is allocated to housing expenses which leaves little room for savings or unexpected costs. “I can’t save any money. In addition to rent, I pay my electric, insurance, and cable bills,” Judith explains. Despite her frugality and efforts to make healthy choices, making ends meet remains a constant challenge.

Since enrolling in the FoodShare program in 2022, Judith has experienced firsthand the invaluable assistance provided during times of need. “A lot of my money goes towards food,” she reveals. “I spend nearly $200 on groceries each month, so I’m so grateful for the help.”

The COVID-19 pandemic brought additional challenges, with temporary increases in benefits providing a lifeline for individuals like Judith. However, as these supplemental payments waned, Judith found herself facing tough decisions, often sacrificing essentials like meat and nutritious proteins to make ends meet.

Despite these hardships, Judith remains committed to managing her health, particularly her type II diabetes, through healthy eating. The Stockbox DoorDash program, which delivers essential pantry staples directly to her door, has been instrumental in ensuring she has access to nutritious foods. “I worry if I’m going to have enough healthy food to manage my diabetes, and I try to take care of that. The Stockbox really helps,” she shares.

Last summer, $35 in vouchers, provided by the Senior Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program administered by Hunger Task Force, allowed Judith to supplement her diet with fresh, locally sourced produce to enhance both her nutrition and overall well-being. “I think it’s wonderful for your health,” she enthuses. “In the long run, if you eat healthy then you’re going to be healthy.”

Judith’s story illustrates the challenges faced by many seniors dealing with financial insecurity and health concerns. Thanks to Hunger Task Force and our team of dedicated advocates, individuals like Judith find not only nourishment but also a renewed sense of hope and dignity as they navigate the often-complex realities of aging in today’s world.

Hunger Task Force is a lifeline for seniors in our community. Through programs like Stockbox DoorDash, the Senior Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program and Mobile Market, we connect low-income seniors to essential food resources, promoting better nutrition and overall health.

Stockbox DoorDash expands access to homebound seniors, and seniors who do not live near a traditional pick-up site, “dashing” nutritious food directly to their doors.

Hunger Task Force administers the Senior Farmers’ Market Voucher Program, providing seniors with vouchers to purchase fresh produce at local farmers’ markets.

The Mobile Market travels throughout Milwaukee County to visit neighborhoods, senior centers and communities that have limited access to fresh and healthy foods.

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.