Healthy Food for All
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. Clearly this has implications for hunger and food security for families.


Increasing access to healthy food is a crucial in ending family homelessness in Dane County so families don’t have to choose between paying rent and putting food on the table.

Today, United Way’s Healthy Food for all Children Delegation announced the creation of a 10 year plan to increase access to fresh and healthy food for all children in Dane County. The plan focuses on several key strategies which will increase access to healthy foods for children and families, the capacity of neighborhoods and communities to support affordable healthy food choices, and culturally appropriate healthy food in school, after-school, summer programs and childcare through expanded choices for students and integrated education on healthy living. Over 30 community leaders have created a plan that unifies the community in a common vision to increase options and availability for healthy food for children.

This Delegation is a joint effort between United Way, the Community Action Coalition for South Central Wisconsin, Inc (CACSW). and the Irwin A. and Robert D. Goodman Foundation.

“Even in resource rich Dane County, a growing number of children do not have access to healthy food which is critical to growing strong bodies and brains,” says Chris Brockel, Chair of United Way’s Healthy Food for All Children Delegation and Food Gardens and Division Manager at CACSW. “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. Clearly this has implications for hunger and food security for families.”

In September of 2012, the Delegation began its work examine the systems in Dane County through which low-income children and families receive healthy food. 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 sought to fully understand the current food system, identify best practices within it and innovate ideas for improvement. The vision, being launched today, attacks the problem of hunger and access to healthy food through these targeted ways:

Increase Access to Healthy Food for Families
Low income families have two important ways to gain access to healthy food. These are through public benefits and access to food pantries.

The Plan will Increase participation in benefit programs for qualifying children and families, increase access to and use of free or affordable healthy food through pantries, evening meal programs and incentive programs, and increase family self-sufficiency.

Increase the Capacity of Neighborhoods and Communities to Support Affordable Healthy Food Choices

Both local and national research supports the importance of locally available healthy food choices and overall health of low income children and families.

The Plan will increase healthy options through locally placed markets, retail, food gardens and urban agriculture, improve and expand infrastructure for movement, storage, production and processing/transformation to maximize availability of fresh food.

Increase Culturally Appropriate Healthy Food in School, After-School, Summer Programs and Childcare through Expanded Choices for Students and Integrated Education on Healthy Living and Eating.
Most children in Dane County receive at least one of their meals (if not more) at school, childcare and Head Start or at neighborhood/Community Center program.
The Plan will increase number of children consistently exposed to healthy food at school, after-school, summer programs and childcare, number of children receiving an engaging, integrated education on healthy food at school or in afterschool programming and organizations dedicated to a healthy food environment.

“It is clear that for the systems that provide healthy food for all children in our area to change and grow, the community must own a part of this plan,” says Leslie Ann Howard, President & CEO of United Way of Dane County. “We acknowledge the great partnerships of so many other Government and community organizations deeply committed to feeding children and families in Dane County and look forward to continuing to improve the health and wellbeing of our youngest residents through access to healthy food.”


  • An adequate supply of healthy food is absolutely critical for children’s healthy development and academic success.
  • Proper nutrition literally affects the growth of the brain. For the first eight years after birth, children’s bodies and brains develop at a rapid pace.
  • Children need the nutrients in healthy foods to help their bodies grow strong and healthy. Dairy and fresh vegetables and fruits are particularly important. Fruits, vegetables, fish and whole grains are full of nutrients that ensure a child’s brain functions properly and maintains overall mental health.
  • The effects of hunger and food insecurity on children are significant. Research has shown that children who went hungry at least once in their lives were 2½ times more likely to have poor overall health 10 to 15 years later, compared with those who never had to go without food.

Our Community’s Agenda for Change


  • Students succeed academically and graduate from high school, regardless of race.
  • Children are cared for and have fun as they become prepared for school.


  • There is a decrease in family homelessness.
  • There is a reduction in violence toward individuals and families.


  • People’s health issues are identified and treated early.
  • Seniors and people with disabilities are able to stay in their homes.

United Way engages our community mobilizes volunteers and strengthens local nonprofits to achieve measurable results and change lives.

 About United Way of Dane County

United Way of Dane County is addressing the underlying causes of community issues through our community’s Agenda for Change—seven goals focused on three priority areas of Education, Safety and Health that our community identified as most critical to changing lives and strengthening Dane County. Through strategic partnerships and collaborative work, we are achieving measurable results toward making our community better educated, safer, and healthier. United Way provides organizations and individuals the opportunity to give, advocate, and volunteer to change the human condition in Dane County.