Feeing America Eastern Wisconsin

Face of Feeding Our Community

(Left to right) Maurice (Moe) Wince, Anita Garrett, Leatanya Dunn, Edie Pasek, Dee-Dee Davis, Julia Means; Photo by Linda Smallpage, Boutique Photographer

In the spring of 2022, Feeding America Eastern Wisconsin launched its Food Leaders Lab. The hunger relief organization’s program recruits ambassadors from communities around the state for seven-month stretches during which the ambassadors learn about advocacy, networking, food policy and more. The ambassadors meet each month and spend their time outside of those meetings working on projects related to food insecurity, such as developing equitable access to nutritious foods, promoting sustainable salmon harvesting with the Department of Natural Resources, researching food deserts and more.

The first Milwaukee cohort, pictured here, graduated from the Food Leaders Lab in November. The ambassadors have the opportunity to pursue projects related to their individual interests, whether that’s food deserts, sustainable farming or other topics related to food insecurity. One ambassador, Anita Garrett, attended the White House Conference on Hunger, Nutrition and Health in March to discuss ways to address food insecurity. Another ambassador, Maurice Wince, runs the Sherman Park Grocery Store and is now teaching others about food retail and access in food deserts.

“What’s most exciting about the program is seeing our ambassadors’ ideas come to life,” says Maureen Fitzgerald, the organization’s vice president of government relations. “We’re connecting our ambassadors with our wide network so they can come together and make these innovative ideas a reality.”

Feeding America Eastern Wisconsin is the largest local food bank in Wisconsin and serves 35 counties. Last year it provided 33.3 million pounds of food to folks in need, with 36,000 volunteer hours contributing to the effort. A donation of $1 to the organization can provide four meals.

People interested in enrolling in the Food Leaders Lab can submit an interest form on its website. When the application period opens for the next cohort, Feeding America Eastern Wisconsin will reach out to qualified submitters. Applicants who have experience with food insecurity are prioritized, but all are considered.

“There’s so much great work happening in our neighborhoods and our communities,” Fitzgerald says. “We want to lift that up creatively and help make connections to promote those amazing efforts to fight hunger around our state.”

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