Wello Partnership Aims to Protect Fresh Food Access at Farmers Markets for Vulnerable Populations

BROWN COUNTY, WI- Wello is the recipient of a Wisconsin Partnership Program (WPP) COVID-19 Response Grant and will partner with Casa ALBA Melanie – Hispanic Resource Center and four of our local farmers markets (Downtown Green Bay, Inc., OnBroadway, Inc., Market on Military, and Oneida Market) to address food insecurity to those most vulnerable in the Greater Green Bay community.

This grant works to ensure people who are receiving Foodshare (EBT) benefits, including those families experiencing recent job loss due to COVID-19 and new to EBT or P-EBT (pandemic), can continue to use those benefit dollars at the markets to purchase fresh food from our local farmers.

“Due to the COVID-19 crisis, more of our neighbors have found themselves unemployed and experiencing food insecurity,” said Natalie Bomstad, Executive Director of Wello. “Farmers markets are an important part of the food insecurity equation. This project aims to safeguard fresh food access by working collaboratively with our local farmers markets to ensure people can continue to use their FoodShare (EBT) dollars to purchase fresh, nutritious food. This supports families in accessing healthy food in a time of increased need and provides some financial sustainability to our local farmers.”  

Since 2012, markets have accepted EBT dollars and offered an incentive program to stretch food dollars called Double Your Bucks (DYB) that provides bonus dollars specifically for the purchase of fresh fruits and vegetables that can be out-of-reach for low-income families.These programs increase access to fresh, local foods for an estimated 2,000 low-income community members and generate more than $26,000 in additional revenue for local farmers on an annual basis. During the past few months, there has been an increase in the number of households receiving FoodShare (EBT) benefits as a result of the COVID-19 crisis, indicating a need to safeguard this program.

Grant dollars will go directly to supporting local farmers markets to implement the changes and innovative strategies necessary to continue offering these important services to local residents who are most impacted by COVID-19.

The grant also provides support to design pathways that ensure fresh food access to a community particularly hard hit in Brown County; the Hispanic Community.

“Many of these families contribute to the economic and social fabric of Brown County and have been hit particularly hard by the COVID-19 pandemic due to job loss, high-risk employment, health disparities and barriers in accessing available economic relief,” said Sister Melanie Maczka, Executive Director of Casa ALBA. “This grant helps support efforts that will ensure access to fresh, healthy foods to feed their families.”

This project was funded through a COVID-19 Response grant from the Wisconsin Partnership Program at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health. If you have any questions please contact Mario Gonzalez at mario@wello.org or by phone at (773) 386-7185.