If you have lived in Madison for any substantial period of time, you have likely wandered among the produce-lined and organically-stuffed aisles of Willy Street Co-op. With three locations across Madison, the customer-owned grocery store has been filling the carts (and bellies) of locals since 1974.
Three-plus generations of success unfortunately don’t protect businesses like the co-op against a global pandemic, though. The upside of having ownership split among 35,000 individuals in this time, however, is reactivity.
“Because we are owned by people right here in our community, it plays an important role in our decision making process,” said Communications Director Brendon Smith. “We can be responsive to community needs in a way that chain stores cannot.”
When the River Food Pantry’s MUNCH program was initially threatened by the COVID-19 pandemic, a staff cook took it upon himself to not only continue serving the typical nine neighborhoods on Madison’s north side, but also to depart from the typical PB&J or turkey sandwich option.
The Sherman neighborhood on Madison’s North Side is growing, but residents still notice a lack of healthy, local food. Many families in the area have young children, so the demand for affordable meals and produce continues to grow.
For the month of August, Short Stack Eatery in downtown Madison is partnering with Just Bakery to bring some of its signature goods to the table.
Madison-Area and Urban Ministry’s Just Bakery program, a 12-week employment training program, combines commercial bakeries with culinary education and jobs for formerly incarcerated people to build community ties. The program is mainly intended to aid former inmates with employment and ease their way back into community life. Short Stack Eatery, a local restaurant located on the State Street, has been known as a bustling hub is famous for its all-inclusive brunch since 2015. This month, something different is on their menu. “For OTM (Organization of the Month) this month, Just Bakery, we are going to sell some of their ice-cream sandwiches and include their food” on the menu, said Short Stack shift managerIsabel Mchugh.
As MUM’s Just Bakery Program and Short Stack Eatery got together, they found that they had common goals in serving and supporting the community, thus forged a collaboration.
Second Harvest Foodbank of Southern Wisconsin is launching a pilot program called “Helpful Harvest” to test the possibility of using an online free food ordering system to connect people who are qualified for receiving the resources.
The three-month pilot began in June, providing free groceries for anyone who submits an order through their website. Second Harvest officials hope the relative anonymity of online ordering helps people who might be reluctant to walk into a food pantry.
The Wisconsin Council of the Blind and Visually Impaired is hosting a Dining in the Dark event on March 21. The unique experience will happen on Charlie’s on Main in Oregon, and will start at 6:30 p.m. and end around 9:00 p.m.
The guests will enjoy an Italian inspired four-course meal while blindfolded prepared by chef Dave Heide, followed by a showing of “Sound of Sunshine Sound of Rain.” Dinner costs $60 per person and a wine pairing is available for $20, and proceeds benefit the Wisconsin Council of the Blind and Visually Impaired. “You have this really powerful opportunity to experience food through all of your other senses and to really have that exquisite multisensory experience with food,” said Denise Jess, executive director of the Wisconsin Council of the Blind and Visually Impaired. “To notice what implications it has to not see the food, both in what the gift of that might be and what the loss of that might be.”
This is the second time Dining in the Dark is held at Charlie’s on Main, with the first time being in March 2018. The first time the Council held this type of event was about six years ago in Appleton at a restaurant called GingeRootz Asian Grille.
The United Way of Dane County’s interactive game “Dane Changers” is officially available as an app. Users can now play the game on their mobile devices by downloading it through Google Play or the Apple App Store. The digital engagement tool, which launched in August, teaches users about widespread and critical issues in Dane County like poverty, educational achievement gaps, health inequalities and poverty. Approximately 12 percent of Dane County residents, or 64,000 people, live in poverty, but Dane County remains one of the best places to live in the United States. The United Way paired with Acme Nerd Games to produce the game and app.
Paul Soglin will propose a $17 vehicle-registration fee to help close budget shortfalls and maintain community service programs for low-income residents. Chris Rickert, Wisconsin State Journal, 6/15. Community
The Dane County Immigration and Refugee Task Force, created last summer, announced its recommendations, including a call for a universal drivers' card. Madison 365, 6/15. The James Reeb Unitarian Universalist Church on Madison's eastside is renovating its building to serve as a sanctuary for undocumented immigrants.
Troy Community Farms will host their Annual Plant Sale on Saturday, May 12. Troy Farm is five-acre organic farm located within the City of Madison. Troy Farm is a program operated by Community GroundWorks, a nonprofit organization that brings local and organic food to Madison residents. The farm promotes sustainable food systems through its organic produce and education of the next farming generation. At the sale, Troy Farm will offer 20 types of plants and 75 varieties of vegetables and herbs to purchase.