HFFA volunteer Brendon Krueger and coordinator Chris Brockel repackage excess soup from Epic Systems cafeterias for delivery to local food pantries. Photo by Chris Kronser

By Chris Brockel
Healthy Food For All

On June 23, Healthy Food for All (HFFA) celebrated the second anniversary of its formation in a style that it has grown accustomed to — by delivering prepared food donations it had re-packaged, labeled and frozen the previous day. Two years ago, HFFA held its first repackaging session at FEED Kitchens, and focused on produce donations from local farms, an activity that consumed their first summer of existence. It was later that summer, with the support of the Madison/Dane County Food Waste Reduction Task Force, that HFFA added bulk prepared food to its workload when they agreed to take on excess food from Epic’s annual Worldwide User’s Group Meeting. Since its inception, HFFA has collected, re-packaged and distributed to struggling families in our community over 138,000 pounds of prepared food and 40,000 pounds of locally grown produce. Without the existence of HFFA, the vast majority of this food would have ended up in the Dane County landfill or being plowed back into the ground.

Healthy Food for All began its journey with the simple goal of demonstrating that a system could be developed to capture locally available food, save it from becoming waste and make it available to local families. With food insecurity rates hovering around 14 percent of our population and many more families living right on the edge, it made simple sense to co-founders Chris Brockel, Joe Mingle and Mark Thomas that something be done to make sure that local, healthy resources be used to help alleviate the issue and that resources could be better spent building an infrastructure to deal with this potential waste rather than spending money to ship in highly processed food from other parts of the country. Not that packaged foods aren’t needed, but the balance needed to be shifted.

“We believe that we have more than proven the model,” insisted HFFA coordinator Chris Brockel. “Struggling families are receiving healthy local options for their dinner tables and are participating in and gaining some appreciation of our local food system. The gravy on the potatoes is that waste is being saved from our landfill that would otherwise sit and decompose anaerobically and release methane gas into the atmosphere.”

Started independently, HFFA became a program of the Northside Planning Council in March 2016. In hopes of continuing to build an infrastructure around their program, they are working with the FEED Bakery Training program to raise the funds needed to purchase a shared delivery vehicle. With the hopes of achieving this goal in the near future, HFFA is honored to announce recent support from the Goodman, David S. Bourne and Alliant Energy Foundations along with support from the Willy St. Co-op Community Reinvestment Fund.