by Sara O'Hara
In May of this year, United Way of Sheboygan County (UWSC) was proud to share the results of the annual Community Investment Process. As noted, twenty agencies and thirty-eight programs received investment funding for the July 2017- June 2018 fiscal year. Most of the recipient agencies are long-standing partners with United Way and the funded programs have been supported for many years. However, this year three new programs were added. Two programs that were newly added into the investment portfolio are supported by UWAY veteran agencies, and the other program will be run by an agency new to the UWSC Partner Agency group.
UWSC recognizes that despite low unemployment levels, hunger continues to be a real problem in Sheboygan County. According to a “Map the Meal Gap 2016: Child Food Insecurity in Wisconsin by County in 2014” study, the Sheboygan County food insecurity rate is 9.9%, the Sheboygan County child food insecurity rate is 17.8%, and it is estimated that the amount of food-insecure children in Sheboygan County is 4,770. Childhood hunger in the City of Sheboygan is higher than the national average. In 2016, it was identified through reporting partners within the network that an estimated 3,500 households in Sheboygan County needed emergency food. This information compelled the UWSC Community Action Team to recommend investment funding, which was approved by the UWSC Board of Directors, to the following two programs:
Sheboygan County Food Bank (SCFB) – Food Distribution Program:
The purpose of the Sheboygan County Food Bank Food Distribution Network Program is to develop a system that uses a central organization, SCFB, to receive all Sheboygan County Food donations (including food drives, etc.) and distribute the food to specific food pantries, community meals, shelters and other organizations that need emergency food in Sheboygan County food distribution network. SCFB is a new UWSC Partner Agency.
Sheboygan County Interfaith Organization (SCIO) - Farmers Market:
This program’s goal is to promote healthy eating to Sheboygan County residents by utilizing the Farmers Market to make foods more accessible to a wider range of the community population. SCIO will align with Healthy Sheboygan County 2020’s goal to increase the percentage of adults who eat an average of at least two servings of fruit a day and three servings of vegetables. Participant spending will be tracked to prove the program’s effectiveness.
The third newly-added program was vetted and approved for investment funding by UWSC after learning there is a large number of families that have been referred to Sheboygan Health and Human Services for child maltreatment but not substantiated, meaning their situation does not meet the threshold necessary to open a Child Protection case. These families are often in overwhelming situations with little support and unaware of eligibility for supportive programming:
Lakeshore Community Action Program (LCAP) – Community Response (CR):
LCAP provides this program which addresses the individual concerns of the families and uses motivational interviewing techniques in an effort to support these families while helping to reduce barriers and increase family functioning. CR is able to provide services to this population that increase family functioning and reduce their chances of being re-referred to Health and Human Services.
United Way welcomes these new programs to our family, and thanks them for meeting identified needs of the community. Our staff and volunteers continue to assess the needs of Sheboygan County on an ongoing basis, and will work to bring resources to bear on future challenges.