Food and Housing Security are Key to Well-Being

Photo by Middleton Outreach Ministry

Because what we eat, where we live, and our community connection are determinants of health and well-being, MOM (Middleton Outreach Ministry) brings our community together to create food and housing security through action and advocacy.

MOM’s Food Pantry is one of the largest in Dane County. Operating six days per week year-round, the pantry serves an average of 65 households a day with groceries to last a family nearly a week. In 2018, MOM’s Food Pantry and its programs had 30,000 total household visits and distributed nearly 1.3 million pounds of food, with almost half those served being children.

The pantry employs a come-as-you-need model, welcoming guests to use it without fear of when they’ll be able to visit again. Guests are encouraged to take as much food as they can use because having access to nutritious food is critical for health, especially for children.

Some of the produce the pantry offers comes from MOM’s three gardens. The gardens are planted with a variety of vegetables, requested and enjoyed by diverse shoppers. One is a teaching garden, bringing community members and volunteers together to cultivate and harvest, teaching each other how to prepare and enjoy fresh produce. A client recently said, “My kids and I had a good time gardening in the community garden. Thank you for running this program! All of us learned a lot, and we really enjoyed eating the fresh vegetables we grew.” Healthy greens, peppers, root vegetables, squash, and much more were grown and harvested this past growing season.

Photograph provided by Middleton Outreach Ministry

This past year, shopping at MOM’s Clothing Center saved households a total of $664,823 (thrift store prices) and made it possible for job hunters to have suitable attire for interviews, families to stay warm during winter, and kids to proudly wear clothing as stylish as their peers. Free clothing helps families stretch their budgets, especially as kids grow and families’ needs change.

Case managers are at the heart of MOM’s Housing Stability program providing advocacy, referrals, and a listening ear. In 2018, they met with more than 1,000 families and assisted more than 400 in preventing eviction while providing stabilization. Each year, they also distribute over 500 financial grants.

Seasonal programs help cover additional expenses that can be impossible to meet on a tight budget. During back-to-school season, students of all ages receive backpacks filled with grade-appropriate supplies. Thanksgiving baskets and holiday gifts provide needed relief during often stressful times of the year.

MOM’s more than 400 volunteers donated nearly 35,000 hours in 2018, the equivalent of 17 full-time employees. They and MOM’s 11-member staff work to ensure MOM’s Food Pantry and all other programs promote values of individual dignity, social justice, racial equity, and hope for a better tomorrow. The story below provides one example of MOM’s community work.

Photograph provided by Middleton Outreach Ministry

Amira, Ayden, and Alisha

(names changed to protect privacy)
Both Amira and Ayden worked as many hours as their near-minimum-wage jobs would provide. Along with their teenage daughter, Alisha, they lived in a small two-bedroom apartment. They managed to pay the bills each month until Amira had to take unpaid medical leave. Soon they fell behind on rent, and the stress caused Alisha, who was a consistent student, to fall behind in school.

Unsure what to do, the family turned to MOM. “From the first time I walked in the door, I felt safe,” Amira says. The family met with a case manager, who helped them locate and access community resources and provided a small grant from MOM’s Housing Stabilization program to help with an urgent rent payment. This grant, along with access to the food pantry, helped the family avoid eviction and find hope for a more secure future.

MOM is supported almost entirely by individuals, businesses, community groups, and faith-based organizations. Only 13 percent of MOM’s financial donations are provided by nongovernmental grants and private foundations. Nearly half of the food distributed is donated through food drives and everyday donations.

Photograph provided by Middleton Outreach Ministry

On December 3 this year, MOM will participate in Giving Tuesday, a global movement fueled by the power of social media to support nonprofits. You can support MOM by following and sharing the work on Facebook. Giving Tuesday donations can be made through Facebook, at MOM’s website, and by providing matching grants to encourage others to give.

Plan to visit MOM’s Creating for a Cause: Holiday Art Fair in the Food Pantry on December 7 and 8, where you can purchase quality gifts produced by local artists with a percent of all sales supporting MOM. Items include the ever-popular ReMitts upcycled mittens, with 100 percent of the proceeds donated to MOM; pottery by Scott Draves, a nationally known potter whose works are collected all around the country; intricate wood carvings by Roger Becker; and more. ReMitts can be found at many other locations throughout the community as well.

You may also purchase Gifts of Home at the Holiday Art Fair and momhelps.org as an alternative gift that’s perfect for the person who has everything. Purchasers receive a card to give their recipient explaining that a donation was made in their honor, and that it will help people in need of food and stable housing.

Our community is stronger because of your support!

Ellen Carlson is the executive director at MOM.

Middleton Outreach Ministry

3502 Parmenter Street
Middleton, WI 53562
(608) 836-7338
momhelps.org