How partnerships shaped the Dane CARES Farm-to-Food Bank program
Keywords:CARES Act, Collaboration, COVID-19, Emergency Food, Extension, Farmers, Food Bank, Food Pantries, Food Security, Pandemic
The COVID-19 pandemic forced Wisconsin’s food systems institutions into rapid innovation as they responded to rising community food insecurity. With support from the Dane County Executive’s office, federal relief funding eased previously onerous barriers to allow Dane County’s largest food bank to implement a unique local purchasing program: Dane CARES. The program sought to support Dane County producers experiencing reductions in market opportunities, while feeding the rising number of Dane County families experiencing food hardship. Drawing on existing food and agriculture partnerships, Extension Dane County staff connected partners to assist with project expedition and documented partners’ efforts through a series of semistructured interviews. The program achieved its two primary goals of replacing lost markets for local farmers and facilitating increased food distribution to communities in need. To elevate this multisector collaboration and inspire more great work like Dane CARES, we outline the evidence of program value to farmers’ livelihoods, demonstrate the growth of partner networks to support institutional purchasing of local food, and offer recommendations to improve future program iterations.
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Copyright (c) 2021 Jessica Guffey Calkins, Claire Mance
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