The Hunger Task Force coordinates donations from approximately 480 donors and food drives and distribution to over 80 meal sites, food pantries, youth programs, and outreach sites in La Crosse, Vernon, Trempealeau, and Monroe Counties.
In 2015, over 1,300,000 pounds of food was “recovered” and distributed to our partner agencies.
Food Bank vs. Food Pantry
The terms “food bank” and “food pantry” are commonly confused. A food pantry serves individuals and families by distributing food items directly to those in need.
The Hunger Task Force is a food bank. A food bank is an umbrella organization that collects, sorts, and distributes foods (including large quantities and bulk items) to a variety of meal sites, pantries, shelters, and other approved locations within a community. Because a food bank supports a variety of organizations and programs, The Hunger Task Force is often referred to as “the food pantry’s food pantry.” We are FREE and LOCAL! We believe that collecting and distributing within our community keeps us strong. We do not charge our recipient programs for food, like other food banks, yet many choose to support us by annual donations.
Food recovery and redistribution is part of the sustainability movement. It is based on the idea of using excess food to feed people in need when they need it. It makes sense to make use of donated excess food when much of the unused food would find its way to landfills. Up to one-fifth of America’s food goes to waste each year, with an estimated 130 pounds per person ending up in landfills. The annual value of this lost food is estimated at around $31 billion. But the real story is that roughly 49 million people could have been fed by those lost resources (USDA).
It is important to note that food recovery plays an important role in the growing sustainability trend. It allows producers and distributors a way to manage surplus product in an efficient and ethical way. Food recovery provides an outlet for such product to be delivered to the tables of the hungry through an efficient distribution process. Having one primary source of recovery and distribution to multiple food pantries and meal programs assures rapid and appropriate delivery and keep surplus product out of our landfills. The Hunger Task Force can help manage the needs of its multiple partners through established communication channels and provide those organizations with product that meets the needs of their program.
A System That Works
We have a unique position in the regional food chain, providing professional distribution services to recycle surplus and used food. We are an umbrella organization, taking the leadership in recovering food and redistributing to partner programs, serving as “the food pantries’ food pantry.” We see redistribution of surplus food as a crucial sustainability issue. We must work together to ensure that food is not wasted, that there is no unnecessary cost in the food chain, and that all of our citizens receive the nourishment needed to thrive.
We have a 15-year history of being increasingly effective and efficient in the redistribution of surplus food to an ever-increasing number of programs–now over 80–that serve the hungry.