Having been incorporated somewhat recently, in late 2019, the Kenosha County Food Bank remains very much a “start-up” organization.
So it was only logical for the Kenosha County Food Bank to turn its beneficial partnership with the Racine County Food Bank into one large food bank co-location serving both counties.
Now, with the implementation of that co-location a success, the Kenosha County Food Bank is taking its next strategic step by announcing that it’s beginning recruitment for a director.
According to a Kenosha County Food Bank press release, “This new leader will carry forward our operational expansion, including enhancing and establishing agency partnerships throughout Kenosha County, developing donor and supplier relationships and launching our fundraising campaign.”
Since its inception in late 2019, the Kenosha County Food Bank has partnered in sharing resources with the Racine County Food Bank. So, after years of trying to identify a site locally in Kenosha County as a home base, the Kenosha County Food Bank figured it would just make sense to join up with the Racine County Food Bank at its home location, 2000 DeKoven Ave. in Racine.
The Kenosha County Food Bank and Racine County Food Bank are separate non-profits with independent boards, but by sharing physical space, the food banks mutually benefit from significant reductions in total operational costs.
On this premise, the Kenosha County Food Bank announced the co-location arrangement with the Racine County Food Bank in January 2023. The collaboration was celebrated by a joint proclamation on Feb. 19 in a ceremony attended by local officials, partners and board members from each food bank.
At this proclamation, Kenosha County Executive Samantha Kerkman said the Racine-Kenosha county line should not be a divider when trying to assist people. Racine County Executive Jonathan Delagrave, meanwhile, stated that the two food banks working together will directly help those who receive their services and will also indirectly benefit all area residents, because the counties can now put resources toward other areas.
As the proclamation emphasized, “We have a business obligation and moral imperative to provide sustainable access to nutritious food while operating the most cost-effective food distribution system possible.”
Since announcing its co-location at the Racine County Food Bank campus, the Kenosha County Food Bank has completed the installation of a 5,312-cubic-foot cooler system. This system was awarded to the Kenosha County Food Bank in 2022 via grants from Feeding America Eastern Wisconsin, in conjunction with the American Rescue Plan Act and the Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection.
In total, the two-county food-bank campus can now support over 10,000 cubic feet of fresh and frozen storage capacity, with 32 pallets of refrigeration and 56 pallets of freezer storage. The Kenosha County Food Bank now serves 4,700 people per month via its current pantry network, while the Racine County Food Bank serves an additional 5,000 people a month via 12 sites.
Serving the community
Additionally, the space shared by the two food banks is already being used in even broader terms by the Racine Kenosha Community Action Agency as a temporary transfer facility for its communities.
The Racine Kenosha Community Action Agency administers the Emergency Food Assistance Program for Racine and Kenosha counties, which provides nutritional state commodities that are received and distributed to shelters, food pantries and meal sites in both counties.
Recently, the Racine Kenosha Community Action Agency has coordinated with the Racine County Food Bank and the Kenosha County Food Bank to utilize freezer and refrigerator storage space.
“The collaboration enables us to provide healthy foods to constituents in a much more efficient and time-saving manner,” Racine Kenosha Community Action Agency Community Services Manager Zeke Leo says. “This is greatly appreciated. RKCAA enjoys and hopes to continue moving forward and working with both food banks in providing a much-needed service for those in our communities.”
According to the 2022 Kenosha County Community Health Assessment Report, access to affordable healthcare and housing, concerns related to drug abuse and access to affordable, healthy food round out the top four community risks that area residents are facing. Grocery costs and overall inflation continue to challenge families and individuals.
The Kenosha County Food Bank continues to make weekly deliveries on behalf of its pantry network and aims to facilitate future dialog with agencies looking to benefit from the collective food management resources that a food bank can offer. The Kenosha County Food Bank’s food management resources enable its partners to target their resources to broader issues of poverty, including job training and financial education, housing or rental assistance, legal or language services, medical, dental and targeted healthcare, and wellness connections.
As the latter half of 2023 beckons, the Kenosha County Food Bank is preparing for its second annual holiday meal box program in support of its network. Meal box deliveries take place in November and December.
The Kenosha County Food Bank is grateful for partners like the Kenosha Community Foundation and Feeding America Eastern Wisconsin for supporting the holiday meal box program with financial and food donations that will ensure this year’s program success.
Those interested in supporting the Kenosha County Food Bank’s holiday meal box program, or to reach out in any way to the Kenosha County Food Bank, are encouraged to visit kenoshacountyfoodbank.org.