Extreme heat and humidity are in the forecast for Madison this week.
Slow Food UW (SFUW), the University of Wisconsin-Madison student chapter of the international slow food movement, was awarded a $25,000 grant from the Ford Motor Company Fund’s College Community Challenge. The project will enhance Growing Power’s Market Basket program and expand the delivery of fresh, healthy produce to South Madison.
Student-led projects from universities across the country competed for funding and the UW-Madison group was one of 10 projects that was funded. The College Community Challenge supports projects that partner students with critical needs in their communities. In South Madison, food injustice—the lack of access to and affordability of healthy food—is a reality for residents, and expanding Growing Power’s Market Basket Program is one of SFUW’s efforts to understand and close racial disparities in the food system by increasing the distribution of healthy food. Students work with campus and community partners to design a system addressing food injustice in South Madison.
The Market Basket program—created and managed by urban agriculture organization Growing Power—provides weekly fresh, affordable fruits and vegetables to the South Madison community in addition to communities in Milwaukee and Chicago. Expansion of the program in South Madison will be led by students with faculty and community stakeholder oversight, bringing together many partners to contribute to health equity.
“The Slow Food UW South Madison program is campus outreach that gets students into the community and involved in social justice,” says Lexi Boumstein, a junior majoring in sociology who serves as co-director of the Slow Food South Madison Partnership.
“Madison is unique in that it is home to one of the largest farmers’ markets in the country, but we also have large areas of food insecurity due to lack of affordability and transportation,” she says. “Market Basket aims to combat that. We want to give individuals who can’t afford to shop at the Farmers’ Market the opportunity to access fresh produce.”
With this grant, undergraduate students in engineering will design bicycle trailers for food delivery, and graduate students in Urban and Regional Planning will improve Market Basket logistics and do bicycle planning to enhance the program’s reach. Specifically, the project will purchase an industrial-sized refrigerator to facilitate delivery from a hub to convenient Market Basket pick-up locations.
“With additional pick-up sites across Madison, we will be able to feed more mouths and more effectively combat the food insecurity,” says Boumstein.
“Expansion of Growing Power’s Market Basket Program will reach the families, neighborhoods, and communities that are in the most need of fresh, healthy produce. These are areas where food deserts are reality and families suffer racial inequalities,” says Racheal Knoke, a senior majoring in Human Development and Family Studies and co-director of Slow Food South Madison Partnership.
At its core, Market Basket is the Wisconsin Idea in practice: putting UW-Madison know-how to work in the community. In addition to SFUW, many campus partners—including University Health Services, the Global Health Institute, UW Odyssey Project, Center for Community and Nonprofit Studies, School of Human Ecology, Department of Urban and Regional Planning, Department of Biological Systems Engineering, and engineering and business students—have a role in this initiative. Alfonso Morales, a faculty advisor to Slow Food UW and the principal investigator on the grant, says that the multidisciplinary approach, made up of a unique network of campus partners, is “necessary when addressing complex opportunities like fostering access to healthy food.”
“This creative innovation at UW-Madison will address inequities in the food system through a design that embraces production, distribution, preparation, and consumption strategies in South Madison,” says Ariel Kaufman, an outreach specialist at UHS.
Mike Schmidt, director of Education and Community Development at the Ford Motor Company Fund, concurs. “Innovation and sustainability are two essential elements that will help strengthen communities and improve quality of life for the people who call them home.”
SFUW, a 501(c)(3) organization, was founded in 2007 and currently runs five projects with more than 40 student interns and support from volunteers and community members. All of SFUW’s projects focus on food as a vehicle for social change with the goal of building a stronger community.
Click here to watch SFUW’s winning video proposal.