FORK To Launch New Food Helpline

By Vilas News-Review, Posted on October 11, 2022

Families living in Oneida and Vilas counties who are experiencing food insecurity will be able to find nutritional support by calling the new Family Food Helpline, announced Feed Our Rural Kids (FORK) President Perry Pokrandt.

The helpline will go into effect on Nov. 1.

“The Family Food Helpline is a collaborative effort between FORK and Oneida and Vilas counties Departments of Social Services,” Pokrandt said. “We could not be more excited to announce this partnership.”

Kate Gardner, director of Vilas County Social Services, said that departments in both counties work within their communities to preserve and strengthen families, as well as empower individuals toward an independent and enhanced quality of life.

“Now, through this newly formed partnership, FORK will provide the community a valuable educational source for food specific support,” added Gardner. “They will accomplish this through the creation and maintenance of a Food Security Resource Guide, providing updated information on over 70 resource contacts within the two-county area.”

“But we cannot do this alone,” said Oneida County Social Services Director Mary Rideout. “For that reason, the two departments have partnered with FORK to develop and support the Family Food Helpline. The new helpline will be a toll-free, confidential source of nutritional support information for area families.

“It will also be FORK’s responsibility to direct the marketing and publicity efforts in support of the Family Food Helpline project across our counties, as well as financially supporting all costs related to maintenance of the project,” Rideout added.

Pokrandt said the new helpline will be the go-to resource connecting families to locally available food support programs.

“It is a source of information for those times when life-changing circumstances lead a family to ever-increasing levels of food insecurity, and for those who experience food insecurity as a chronic daily challenge. Now, when people need food, they can simply call the Family Food Helpline at 888-479-FORK (3675).”

According to Pokrandt, FORK’s organizational mission is to provide nutritional support to children from food insecure homes across Vilas and Oneida counties.

“We work toward this goal in several different ways. First is through our management of five nutritional support programs within the Three Lakes, Northland Pines and Phelps school districts. Secondly, the FORK Endowment Fund provides us with financial resources to support other organizations who also work to feed children,” he explained.

“Our local food support organizations know firsthand the impact of our seasonal, service-based economy, and the impact of life-changing circumstances on a family’s long term food security,” continued Pokrandt. “That built-in uncertainty is the very essence of our rural food insecurity. It is the reason we created Feed Our Rural Kids and this Family Food Helpline.”

Gardner added that by simply existing, the Family Food Helpline will give area residents greater access to nutritional support.

“Remember, starting Nov. 1, if your family is ever uncertain about where the next meal will come from, you can dial (888) 479-FORK and your county’s Social Services department will be there to answer your call,” Gardner said.

Feed Our Rural Kids is a registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization.

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