Unlikely collaborations can lead to a multitude of success for not only the organizations themselves, but for all of the populations they serve. In early 2021, the Wisconsin Medical Home Initiative brought together seven partners from both the health system and community-based organizational realms to create the Food Insecurity and Health Pilot.

The new partnerships that developed have reaped benefits such as an increase in knowledge for organizations, new relationships and connections and most importantly, connecting families to the resources they need.

The partners – Children’s Wisconsin, Feeding America Eastern Wisconsin, Friedens Food Pantries and the Salvation Army Milwaukee County Social Services – spent the last year working toward linking the health systems and community-based organizations to ultimately be able to connect families to food and health resources.

“Feeding people is about more than simply providing food – it is about providing foods rich in nutritional value and promoting health and wellness. In Wisconsin, more than half a million individuals are experiencing food insecurity. Therefore, solving hunger will require an innovative, strong partnership that will work at a new level to meet the need. By joining in the Children’s Alliance of Wisconsin pilot project, we are creatively showing a commitment to addressing food insecurity and the health of our communities,” said Martha Collins, director of advocacy and outreach for Feeding America Eastern Wisconsin.

The ultimate goal of the pilot is to connect families to the food and health resources they need, and so far the first year has taken a large step in that direction. Through a year of meeting and planning, all of the organizations were able to build and strengthen their relationships with each other.

The relationship development, as explained by the Salvation Army Milwaukee County Social Services director Debra Lewis, is something that is crucial when it comes to serving communities.

“Community partnerships across various sectors strengthen our abilities to serve vulnerable populations,” she said. “In partnership, we have the ability to provide food to individuals and families who may not have previously made contact with our food pantry.”

With continuation of the Food Insecurity and Health Pilot, participating organizations will make strides toward serving their respective communities to the best of their ability.

“Without this pilot, we never would have developed close relationships with health care organizations,” said Sophia Torrijos, executive director of Friedens Food Pantries. “Our ability to work together directly impacts individuals experiencing food insecurity. We’re still in the initial stages of learning to work together, and we’re laying the foundation for important work to come.”