Housing Family
Close to half of all people who are homeless in Dane County are families with children. Access to food is a key strategy in ending family homelessness.

Food security, stable housing, and financial security are an integral part of the health of children and families in Dane County.

United Way in partnership with the Irwin A. and Robert D. Goodman Foundation and Community Action Coalition for South Central Wisconsin Inc. are working to establish a ten year plan to increase access to healthy food for low income children and families in Madison and Dane County.

“Nationally, $7 out of every $10 dollars in a low income family’s budget are spent on basic needs such as housing, clothing, transportation and food,” says Christine Dahlhauser, Partner at Baker Tilly Virchow Krause and Chair of United Way’s Basic Needs Community Solutions Team.  “Clearly this has implications for hunger and food security for families.”

Increasing the availability of food at no cost to families has been one of United Way’s four core strategies (quality case management, financial coaching, building relationships with landlords, and Housing First) to reduce family homelessness in Dane County. In 2011, due to these housing strategies more than 80% of households receiving Housing First and other support services maintained permanent housing. This is well over 150 families.

Housing in Action Mobilization Plan Graphic
Increasing the availability of food at no cost to families has been one of United Way’s four core strategies to reduce family homelessness in Dane County.

The Healthy Food for All Children Delegation has been meeting monthly since September. As part of their work they have been engaging a wide variety of stakeholders within the current food system. These include, but are not limited to, food pantries, schools, churches, households, day care providers and after school programs. Through site visits, interviews, and feedback sessions the Delegation is seeking to fully understand the current food system, identify best practices within it and innovate ideas for improvement. The Delegation will create a set of recommendations to be released later this year.

Dahlhauser says United Way and partners have high hopes for how this will help low income families access healthy and nutritious food. “Navigating the current system can be difficult and also due to the higher cost of healthy food, not an economic option for families. This work will make healthy options available for everyone in in our community. Not just the ones who can afford it.”

To learn more about reducing family homelessness in our community click here.