Family Food Helpline is great go-to resource

By Vilas News-Review, Posted on December 27, 2022

Dear Editor:

Recently, the Vilas and Oneida County departments of Social Services partnered with Feed Our Rural Kids (FORK) to create the Family Food Helpline. The helpline is a food-centric, toll-free, confidential support access tool for food-insecure families across Vilas and Oneida counties.

Since our announcement of this partnership, some of you have reached out to ask for more detail about the program and the thought process behind our decision to move forward with this project. We’d like to take this opportunity to share some of that information with you. Hopefully this will help clarify the number of problems this effort solves for us.

To start, the Family Food Helpline provides area residents with a go-to source for information about the specific food resources within easiest reach of their residence. With the Food Insecurity Resource Guide provided to us by FORK, we are now not only able to refer individuals to the larger federal or state funded programming, but also to the smaller, locally available food sources available to support area residents. This is particularly important to those individuals and families who may not qualify for the federally funded Wisconsin State FoodShare program.

Also important, the information we provide to callers will be updated for us on a regular basis. With change being the only constant, information accuracy is very difficult for us to maintain. As part of our partnership, FORK has committed to information verification on a biannual basis.

Connecting food-insecure families to our trained Economic Support Staff is a great first step in helping them to get back on their feet. Food insecurity is not something families can plan for. Sometimes “life” just happens. Now, the Family Food Helpline is there to steer them toward the helping hand they need. At the departments of Social Services, we appreciate any and all resources to help families push back against food insecurity. The Family Food Helpline is such a resource.

Lastly, FORK has put in place an active plan to promote the Family Food Helpline to food-insecure members of the community. Their commitment to this effort is the key to making Vilas and Oneida counties a better place to live for us all.

Families can access the Family Food Helpline with a call to 888-479-FORK (3675).

Happy New Year.

Mary Rideout

and Kate Gardner

Directors of Social Services in Oneida and Vilas counties

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