Backpack Meals

Backpack Meals towards Food Security

The 2017-2018 Buffalo County 4-H Countywide Service-Learning Project is to contribute in ways that help move Buffalo County youth and families towards food security. The 4-H Leaders’ Association is challenging every 4-H Club in Buffalo County to get on board and actively participate in this year’s countywide service-learning project in their own way.

2017 Service Learning Guide

One of the first contributions to the Backpack Meal program at C-FC included apples, apple slicers and information on how to safely prepare fun apple snacks!
Cheerful Workers 4-H Club with items for the Backpack Meal program.
Hilltop Climbers 4-H Club ready to meet the Backpack Meal program needs in Buffalo County.
Hilltop Climbers 4-H Club busy preparing Backpack Meals.
Hill & Hollow Helping Hands 4-H Club making meals for the Backpack Meal Program.
Golden Hornets 4-H Club’s contribution to the Backpack Program.

The Dimensions of Food Security

“Food security exists when all people, at all times, have physical and economic access to sufficient safe and nutritious food that meets their dietary needs and food preferences for an active and healthy life.” – 1996 World Food Summit

From this definition, four main dimensions of food security can be identified according to

Physical Availability of FoodThe amount of food that is available in a community.
Economic and Physical Access to FoodThe level of ease to get food, both in terms of financial means and where food is located and how expensive it is in the community. (Economic factors like unemployment and rising food prices might affect access to food.)
Food UtilizationHow food is used to make healthy bodies. Is healthy food available, with reasonable access and being consumed?
Stability of the other three dimensions over timeEven if your food intake is adequate today, you are still considered to be food insecure if you have inadequate access to food on a periodic basis.

Food Security Foundations

During 2012, almost 11% of households (more than one in ten) in Buffalo County were food insecure, meaning they lacked assured access to sufficient food for a healthy and active life.  According to the Wisconsin Food Security Project, ensuring food security for all households requires a foundation of four strong legs:

  • Food security is fundamentally linked to family economic security. Communities that offer sufficient jobs at living wages, affordable housing and health care, adequate transportation options, and an adequate safety net can help to ensure food security.
  • To ensure food security, families need adequate access to healthy and affordable food. Communities that have a range of affordable and accessible food outlets and healthy food choices-including options ranging from supermarkets to farmer’s markets to community gardens-are best able to support food security for all households.
  • Federal nutrition programs are a vital source of food for economically vulnerable families, and an important defense against food insecurity. The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly food stamps), the School Breakfast Program, and the Summer Food Program have all been found to enhance food security. Communities that maximize access to these and other nutrition assistance programs can increase the ability of vulnerable households to maintain food security even in difficult economic times.
  • A strong and accessible emergency / charitable food safety net is also critical for families at risk of hunger. For many families, food pantries and other charitable food programs play a vital role in meeting food needs. Communities that have sufficient emergency food resources-at convenient locations and times, with adequate supply and variety, and offered with dignity-can help struggling families maintain secure access to sufficient and healthy food.

Demographics – Who’s Hungry?

In Buffalo County, like in the state and nation, those that are food insecure are not simply individuals, they are families.

The Buffalo County Food Insecurity data below is from the Wisconsin Food Security Project and is based on substantiated information from 2012.

  • Stores accepting FoodShare = 8
  • 37% of students are free/reduced lunch eligbile
  • 14% of youth live in poverty
  • 25% of people have little or no access to grocery store
  • 10% food insecure; 19% of children
  • 2075 people on FoodShare or 15% of population
  • 12% of adults on FoodShare; 30% of youth
  • Only 2 small grocery stores in County for 13,000 people