Monthly FoodShare Signups Will Begin in the Community Rooms this January
As we reported last month, and have been doing for a while, your Co-op accepts FoodShare, the Federal QUEST Card program that helps people with limited money purchase the food they need. In October we piloted hosting Second Harvest at both of our stores to provide more information about FoodShare eligibility and enroll people in the program during their visit to the store. The events were successful for our first try and, starting this January, we will be offering FoodShare signups with Second Harvest monthly at both locations. Please check our Community Room Calendar in the Reader and online at www.willystreet.coop to see the days and times this service will be available each month. We will also post to social media once the details have been finalized.
FoodShare not only helps people purchase the food they need for themselves and their families, it also helps our local economy. The QUEST card can be used at any participating grocery store, at some farmers’ markets, Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) shares, and Meals on Wheels. When this public benefit supports those who need the financial boost, the result is more money in the community, being paid to the workers and farmers that provide our food, and keeping our grocery stores, farms, and other businesses open to provide services for all of us. FoodShare also supports our local food pantries, by keeping that food more readily available for those who may not qualify for the FoodShare program. We encourage anyone who is experiencing difficulty putting food on their tables to get in touch with Second Harvest and find out more about whether or not they qualify for this important program. Call 1-877-366-3635 for details.
You Can Advocate for FoodShare Benefits
As FoodShare is a public program, there will always be legislators who have differing opinions as tohow FoodShare is administered and how FoodShare can be utilized. Your Co-op supports making this easy to obtain and easy to use. This past month the Wisconsin State Legislature passed on a bipartisan vote Assembly Bill 222, which, if it moves forward in the Senate, will require photo identification cards for FoodShare recipients. We feel that passage of AB 222 into law will make it harder for people to use FoodShare because many using FoodShare may lack the transportation or time off work to obtain the photo required. It may also make it more difficult for FoodShare users to easily allow their children or other family members to shop. Under Federal law, anyone can shop for a FoodShare recipient, as it should be, since access to food is a human right.
A number of Community Shares of Wisconsin nonprofits, the nonprofits that benefit from Community CHIP at our registers, agree. Disability Rights Wisconsin, Legal Action of Wisconsin, Wisconsin Coalition Against Sexual Assault, and the Wisconsin Council on Children and Families all registered against supporting AB 222. Of all the registered lobbyists who appeared, none of them registered in favor.
We sent messages to our representatives asking them to vote “no” on AB 222 and we also posted the Wisconsin Council on Children and Families’ call to do the same on our Facebook page. At the time of writing, we had contacted Wisconsin Council on Children and Families to ask what our next steps should be and what steps interested Owners and customers could take as this bill continues to move through the legislature. Once we find out more about which committee the bill will be referred to, we will let you know what our nonprofit partners suggest for a strategy. Watch social media for more details to come and thank you to all of you who may have supported efforts to keep FoodShare accessible.
Support Food Access for Your Neighbors—Give the Gift of Ownership
Looking for a great way to support local businesses and help your friends and family put quality local food on their table this winter season? Consider purchasing an Ownership to Willy Street Co-op to give to someone else. It’s easy. Simply contact or stop by Customer Service at either location. We will create a gift card for you in the amount of equity you would like to give the recipient. You may make their first payment or pay in full, it’s up to you how much you would like to invest. We’ll give you the gift card as well as a Gift Ownership packet that includes a letter explaining how to sign up for an Ownership, a blank Fair Share contract, an Ownership brochure, and an Access Discount brochure/application. The recipient of your gift will have all they need to easily sign up for their new Ownership the next time (or first time!) they shop. This is a great way for both you and your friends or family to get involved with your community. New Owners who demonstrate financial eligibility may also sign up for the Access Discount Program right away, and use it to take a free class and extend their limited food budgets even further. If you know someone participating in FoodShare, Medicaid, WIC, Section 8 Housing Assistance, the Senior Farmer’s Market Nutrition Program, Supplemental Security Income, Social Security Disability Insurance, the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program, FairShare CSA Partner Shares, or whose income is at or below 130% of the Federal Poverty Guideline, purchasing their first equity payment or a fully invested Ownership so that they can benefit from the Access Discount Program will make a great gift with lasting value.
Giving the Gift of POP
The Second Annual Pantries of Plenty (POP) Community Fund Drive has already completed its first month. At the time of writing, we have already raised $2,090 for our four partnering neighborhood food pantries to use this winter season to purchase fresh Co-op food for their customers.
Consider making a donation to the POP Fund as a gift to someoneelse! Just pick up a POP card at the register for either $5, $10, or $25 and we’ll take care of making the donation for you. After December 31st, all monies raised will be split evenly to support the food pantries at Lussier Community Education Center, Goodman Community Center, the Wil-Mar Neighborhood Center, and the Middleton Outreach Ministry. Consider giving the gift of good food to those in our community who need it most this holiday season.
Giving Gifts That Support Local Nonprofits
If you are looking for nifty gifts that make a difference in our community, we have what you are looking for. Here are some simple items that will benefit the locals as much as it benefits your gift recipients:
- Bright Endeavors Candles: “Lighting the way out of poverty for young moms,” this Chicago company teaches young moms to craft premium soy candles through their transitional jobs program in order to secure quality employment and achieve a lifetime of personal success.
- FairShare CSA Coalition: We carry both of their cookbooks: the classic From Asparagus to Zucchini, full of tips to make the most of seasonal and local product and their newer Farm-Fresh and Fast, a collection of easy recipes using common seasonal produce. We also have some fabulous tea towels that support this local nonprofit dedicated to making Community Supported Agriculture more accessible to all through education, outreach, community building and resource sharing.
- Friends of Pheasant Branch Phenology Calendar: Features local photography and writings and space for phenology observations, nature notes, and other nature facts and data. 100% of the purchase price goes back to the Friends of Pheasant Branch.
- Porchlight Products: Made by Porchlight clients using many local ingredients, these products develop job skills, generate revenue for Porchlight programs, and support local growers and suppliers. Consider picking up their Rhubarb Jam, Curtido, Dilly Beans, Multi-Grain Pancake Mix, or Applesauce for your loved ones to enjoy.
- Yahara House Note Cards: With art produced by members of their clubhouse who are living with mental illness, these cards support building relationships and job skills via a supportive community. 100% of the purchase price goes back to the Yahara House.
Santas Without Chimneys Is Back
Many people who experience food insecurity may also lack adequate or consistent shelter. Last year we reported that about a third of those who sleep without shelter are children. We are pleased to announce that we are again hosting drop boxes for the Autonomous Solidarity Organization’s Santas Without Chimneys program. Dedicated to civic engagement and charitable work to build and empower our local community, Santas Without Chimneys provide toys and clothing to homeless children in Madison. Volunteers deliver gifts collected to children participating in Madison Metropolitan School District’s Transition in Education Program; awaiting foster care placement; doubled up due to economic hardship or a similar reason; living in cars, parks, abandoned buildings, or other inadequate accommodations; temporarily living in a motel or hotel due to loss of housing, economic hardship or other similar reasons, or considered unaccompanied youth. If you are interested in participating, simply drop unwrapped items in good condition such as cozy blankets (no bed comforters); kids’ gloves, mittens, hats, and scarves; NEW hair accessories, pre-teen/teen makeup supplies, and nail polish; NEW or LIKE NEW books; NEW art supplies; and gift cards to downtown restaurants and grocery stores (for kids who live on their own) at the drop boxes in our foyers at either location. Please see Customer Service if you are having issues locating the drop box. For more information about Santas Without Chimneys, including their wish list, how to make a cash donation, or how you may volunteer, please visit santaswithoutchimneys.org.
Have a Safe, Warm, Well-Fed Winter
Thanks for supporting each other this year and throughout the winter season. We look forward to cooperating with the community more and more to make food in Dane County more accessible to all.