Dane County Awards $20,000 to 2023 Partners in Equity Food Grant Program Awardees

May 10, 2023
Ariana Vruwink, 608-267-8823
County Executive

Grant Program Works to Advance Food Equity & Access in Dane County

Dane County Executive Joe Parisi announced that 12 local agencies have been selected to receive the Tamara D. Grigsby Office of Equity and Inclusion’s 2023 Partners in Equity (PIE) Food Grant.

In 2019, the County Board approved the Food Council’s recommendation that the Partners in Equity Program be expanded to address the challenges related to food insecurities within the county.  The PIE Food program encourages innovative development of projects that advance equity and access in local food systems through educational and outreach services.

“Thanks to this year’s PIE Food Grant recipients for creating innovative food programs that strive to achieve greater equity in our community and help address food insecurity,” said Dane County Executive Joe Parisi. “Inflation and economic uncertainty remain top concerns among many Dane County residents struggling to put healthy, nutritious food on the table. Through the PIE Food Grant Program, we are building community partnerships, increasing access to opportunity, and creating a stronger local food system.”

In total, $20,000 will be awarded to recipients of the 2023 PIE Food Grant. Recipients were selected based on proposals intended to address issues related to healthy food access, access to land for growing food, or issues related to food waste and recovery.

“There is some amazing community-based work happening in Dane County to address food equity and access, and to build a stronger local food system,” said Jess Guffey Calkins, Community Food Systems Educator at Dane County Extension. “Dane County Partners in Equity Food Grants can offer funding to existing or new projects to support them in the vital services they provide.”

The 2023 grants fall in one of two categories – small grants (applicants requesting $2,000 or less) and large grants (applicants requesting $2,001 to $4,000).  The 2023 grant recipients are as follows:


Small Grants (Funding Available in this Category $5,000)

KIDS FROM WISCONSIN ($250) - The Kids from Wisconsin’s (KFW) annual musical tour will be a platform for hunger awareness across the state. As a partner with Feeding Wisconsin, “Forward Together from Stage to Table” (FTFSTT) has the potential to make a real difference in the lives of underrepresented, underserved, and low-income communities in Dane County by helping to promote greater access to healthy food, improved health outcomes, and a stronger, more connected community. Funds will be used to build and confirm community connections with organizations, foodbanks, government officials and Feeding Wisconsin. The grant will support expanded marketing for FTFSTT, a free workshop for youth, and “stuff-the-bus” collection, with goals of bringing awareness to food insecurities at each site.


F.O.S.T.E.R. OF DANE COUNTY ($500) - Funding will be directed towards F.O.S.T.E.R. Meeting Needs and Planting Seeds program, which seeks to meet the direct and immediate needs of families in south Madison while training a new generation about the critical role of community leadership. The needs being met address immediate provisions of food through food gift cards and fresh garden produce. The grant will allow F.O.S.T.E.R. to distribute 12-months access of healthy food to more than 300 of South Madison's families and support a partnership between F.O.S.T.E.R., Nehemiah, and Badger Rock that can continue to find innovative ways to supply food and support.


GOODMAN COMMUNITY CENTER ($2,000) - Goodman’s Fritz Food Pantry serves families and individuals from many communities in Dane County. While the majority of participants live in Madison’s north and east side neighborhoods, they also serve participants from Stoughton, Verona, Sun Prairie, Monona, Cottage Grove, Fitchburg, and Waunakee.  The goal is to:

  • Maintain a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables in the Food Pantry’s market stand year-round
  • Have the flexibility to purchase foods that complement what is available for free through local food banks and Retail Rescue pick-ups.
  • Regularly stock culturally-relevant foods and maintain food labeling (English, Spanish, Cantonese, Hmong, and Arabic) to assure a welcoming space for all Food Pantry customers 

MISSION NUTRITION DEFOREST INC. ($250) - Mission Nutrition DeForest serves families, children, senior citizens, veterans, and individuals at risk of hunger. The organization provides food to those who seek services AND who may have special dietary needs. The Food PIE Grant will be used to purchase food for specific dietary needs, such as items that are Gluten Free, Nut Free, Dairy Free, Egg Free, and when possible, obtain foods that are specific to culturally ethnic diets like kosher items, beans, rice, soy, etc.


PADRES E HIJOS EN ACCIÓN~PARENTS AND CHILDREN IN ACTION ($2,000) - Padres E Hijos En Acción serves Latino families with children with special care needs. The goal is to serve at least 50 Latino families who have children with special care needs. The funds will assist families in creating menus for the children who require special food, identifying local markets to obtain the required food according to their child’s needs, and adapting healthy recipes to the Latino culture—considering family values according to their country of origin.


Large Grants (Funding Available in this Category $15,000)

AMERICORPS FARM TO SCHOOL PROGRAM / FARM TO SCHOOL SPECIALISTS AT OREGON SCHOOL DISTRICT ($1,000) - Sustain Local Eating aims to increase the amount of local produce purchased from farms within Dane County and served in the school lunch menu. The project will highlight harvest of the month, which will either be served as a part of the school lunch menu multiple times per month or be used for a taste test by AmeriCorps farm to school specialist members to expose children to trying a new food. This will educate students about local foods, nutrition, and environmental benefits of local foods, and how they may be able to incorporate local foods into their own dietary eating pattern.


BAYVIEW FOUNDATION ($1,297) - Bayview Community Meals project will be carried out under the direction of Bayview’s Outreach Program Leader. Residents will work with the staff to raise awareness about events and encourage attendance with community members and flyers. Bayview Community Meals provide homemade, healthy, and culturally relevant foods to residents of Bayview and neighboring CDA properties, which has a large populations of persons with disabilities. Bayview households are low-income and have immigrant and refugee backgrounds.


KIDLINKS WORLD INC. ($3,603) – The Growing Food and Minds project will focus on assisting underserved and minority families in the Verona area and will employ two teens from the targeted community in Verona or Southwest Madison. The program will offer food systems workshops to Dane County youth. The goal is to increase access to culturally relevant food by growing requested produce for Badger Prairie Needs Network (BPNN) Latinx guests. Kidlinks will be enhancing community voice by educating and empowering teen interns to facilitate dialogue amongst their peers about food systems in their community.


NEIGHBORHOOD HOUSE COMMUNITY CENTER ($1,000) - The Purpose Grown Project (PGP) aims to serve individuals/households experiencing food insecurity in Verona, Mount Horeb, and Barneveld through pantries and through free meals at the Community Cafe in Barneveld. PGP will pay for the production of local vegetables from participating farms who agree to grow high quality, nutrient-dense and culturally relevant produce. The food will be delivered weekly to the following outlets for 20 weeks (June through November): Badger Prairie Needs Network (Verona), Community Cafe (Barneveld), and Neighbors Helping Neighbors (Mount Horeb). An estimated 100 households will be served weekly for the duration of the local growing season.


REAP FOOD GROUP, INC. ($3,100) - REAP Food Group serves farmers with small, family-run, sustainable farms based in south central Wisconsin including Dane, Columbia, Iowa, Sauk, Green, and Rock counties. For this project, REAP will focus on a network of indigenous farmers, centered on Yowela Farms in Stoughton, Wisconsin. This project will collaborate with indigenous farmers to develop educational demonstrations of growing, harvesting, and cooking using indigenous farming techniques. Each demonstration will have a learning objective, a list of resources needed for the demonstration, an outline to perform the demonstration, and questions to discuss.


THE RIVER FOOD PANTRY, INC. ($1,000) – “River Delivers” is The River Food Pantry's contactless food delivery program, which began in 2020 as an adaptation to pandemic conditions. It works with volunteers to reliably deliver healthy groceries and meals to homebound residents of Dane County who are unable to access other food assistance programs. “River Delivers” also enables the River Food Pantry to assist Dane County communities beyond Madison who may struggle to reach the pantry in person, due to their distance from the pantry. The River's delivery service is in high demand, operating near capacity and serving an average of 85 households each week. This service distributed 4,453 grocery orders to community members in 2022.


SUNSHINE PLACE/ SUN PRAIRIE FOOD PANTRY SUNSHINE PLACE CULTURALLY RELEVANT FOOD PROJECT ($4,000) - This project is intended to support Latinx, Hmong, and Southeast Asian-heritage clients, and local businesses owned by these groups. The targeted locations to serve are Sun Prairie, east Madison (53704 zip code), and rural eastern Dane County, especially Marshall. To adequately serve the increasing numbers of Latinx, Hmong, and other Southeast Asian-heritage clients, the pantry will purchase culturally relevant foods by the case from businesses owned locally and serving these clients in a retail capacity. This program will not only put relevant products on the shelves, but it will help support the operations of local small business owners, thereby ensuring the program is more equitable and all feel welcome to utilize the pantry.