STORY: Steps toward a more food-secure future

In the United States, 42.2 million people—more than the entire population of California—are considered food insecure. Of those, 13.1 million are children—the population of New York City and Los Angeles combined. In Wisconsin, about one in nine households must cut back on the size of meals or skip meals entirely due to lack of money, which increases the risk of health problems and dampens educational outcomes.

Wisconsin Extension is battling food insecurity by connecting communities to resources:
  • Increased the number of farmers markets that accept FoodShare payments from 68 to 116 in one year, so participants could more easily buy fresh, healthy produce.
  • Collaborated with other agencies in a pilot program to help six food pantries offer more safe, nutritious foods.
  • Assessed food insecurity in 26 low-income Wisconsin schools and identified ways to address the issue.
  • Developed the Wisconsin Food Security Project, an interactive data and mapping tool that helps policymakers assess food security infrastructure. More than 150 leaders have been trained in use of the website. In 2014, the site received nearly 18,000 visits and 8,000 unique visitors.