Food Equity, Food Waste and Redistribution in Madison

Note: This webpage is for instructional purposes only and was not actually commissioned by Wisconsin government agencies.

Food Equity, Recovery and Redistribution in Madison, WI

Team Members:
   Swetha Saseedhar, Biology & French with a Certificate in Global Health, Senior
   Mouna Algahaithi, Community and Non-Profit Leadership with a Certificate in Middle Eastern Studies, Junior
   Manvine Bharj, Food Systems and Engineering, Senior

[Link for topic is unavailable at this time.]

Food deserts, food waste, food equity and distribution have been discussed on at length on local and municipal levels, and yet Madison has seen little impact from any programs in recent years. As a consumer, it is important to be aware of the resources in our communities that help mitigate food insecurity for struggling families. It is equally important for retailers or businesses to understand how to practice more eco-friendly techniques and avoid significant amounts of waste. Most food waste can either be sent into composting facilities, which can be returned to local farms to provide local and fresh produce, or redistributed to communities with less access to healthy or nutritious food options by way of pantries, homeless shelters, or non-profit organizations with systems set in place. In both cases, food waste doesn't become another pound of waste harming our environment, economy, and populations by presiding in a landfill. This website was created to provide landfill-alternative options by referencing existing and successful food-saving programs, the negative impact of landfills and waste, and policies and initiatives that keep sustain these processes.  

The purpose of our research is to better guide consumers, businesses, retailers in Madison to understand how they can prevent food waste, help with food recovery, and understand how food insecurity can potentially affect communities in Madison. The study includes understanding the intersection of multiple systems that results in lack of food equity, food access and how to tackle these persistent issues from a conservationist perspective. Data was collected primarily by literature review, and the project was broken up into three different sections: local policies enacted that impact food-insecure communities, a reference guide of existing programs in Madison that are working to address food insecurity, the impact of food waste on our environment, and an exploration of international and national programs that have succeeded in limiting food waste in their region. We found that while many redistribution initiatives have already taken place in Madison, emphasis on community building and educating privileged communities has not yet taken place. These programs are also fairly new thus, there is not comprehensive data on the impact of these programs.

Food insecurity is defined as the "outcome of a household being unable to acquire (or uncertain of having) enough food to meet the needs of all its members). (Bonanno and Li, 2012) . Across the U.S., there are 17.2 million households that are food insecure (Bonanno and Li, 2012). Food insecurity is a cause and a driver of poverty and results from unequal policies, poor urban planning, food waste, and the high influence of corporate supermarkets and businesses. Nationwide and globally, committed programs are able to salvage food that would otherwise be thrown away or ignored by manufacturers and redistribute them in a more efficient manner, whether it's allotting them to compost projects or donating them to food pantries and shelters. With food access being a large-scale problem in the geo-spatially segregated city of Madison, Wisconsin, we wish to study strategies that can be implemented in Madison to redistribute food that might otherwise be thrown away. In other words, what are other programs across the nation doing to achieve food equity in their service area that Madison is not? Here, we study food recovery and redistribution programs across the nation and compare them to the food recovery and redistribution programs in Madison and determine how all of these programs work to mitigate food inequities.

Mechanisms and Impact of Food Insecurity
Various mechanisms result in food insecurity, including place, limited access, isolation, and higher food prices. When grocery stores are not within walking distance, this means that people must have access to transportation to go to the grocery store. When grocery stores are within walking distance and are of a smaller scale, the food prices may be higher. When large grocery stores are located further away, it could alleviate the price of food but lack of transportation stands as a barrier. In Dane county specifically, 11.8% of the population is food insecure, and 17.5% of all children are food insecure (Heckmen, 2016). Food insecurity is racialized and impacts individuals living under the poverty line more highly. In Wisconsin, 34.5% of Hispanic households and 34/6% of African-American households experience food insecurity, while 37.3% of those living under the federal poverty line experience food insecurity (Heckmen, 2016).
How Policy Results in Food Insecurity
Throughout the last century, racial and ethnic minorities as well as low-income individuals and families have been geographically isolated in neighborhoods that are at a disadvantage either due to location, income status, or investments. This isolation is not a coincidence, it stems from decades of discriminatory policies that divest from poor and minority neighborhoods and that keep businesses from moving there. This means that areas that are at a disadvantage socially and economically, stay at a disadvantage. During the late 1930's, in the aftermath of the Great Depression, the government sought to label areas according to the "riskiness of their mortgage" (Eisenhauer, 2001). A proponent of the New Deal, the Home Owner's Loan Corporation labeled neighborhoods in four categories for credit worthiness (Nelson et. al., 2017). What resulted was a map that was racially-segregated. When looking at areas that were labeled as "hazardous" the justification for this was many times that there were "too many foreign-born people" or too many African-Americans living in that neighborhood. Redlining significantly decreased homeownership opportunities for racial and ethnic minorities, which in turn limits residential investment and contributes to "a vicious cycle of neighborhood decline" (Eisenhauer, 2001).

The photo below is an example of a document that was used in labeling various neighborhoods. The wording at the bottom states "That section bounded by Mifflin and Dayton, Blair and Patterson is primarily a negro section. That section bounded by Franklin and Blair, East Washington Avenue and Wilson Street is old but somewhat better class than other groups in this area with a few apartments. Area on Mifflin from Blearily Street east is a better section than the negro section. However, all sections of this area are poor."


How does this relate to food security and food access? U.S. culture has moved away from locally-owned and operated grocery stores and towards large super-markets. Supermarket redlining occurs along the same geographical borders that were originally introduced trough redlining. These supermarkets are increasingly located away from the city center and closer to middle-class, white neighborhoods. When looking at the history of food retail in the U.S., in the early 1900s it was dominated by local stores that dominated over chains (Eisenhauer, 2001). In the 1950s, shopping centers were anchored around supermarkets and located outside the city as they awaited development to come to them in the form of suburban neighborhoods. At this point, supermarkets share of the retail food market went from 35% to 70%. Small, family-owned businesses that existed (especially in the city) were overpowered by these larger corporations. In the 1980s, there were overall high rates of urban disinvestment by supermarket chains. cities experienced a loss in supermarkets (Eisenhauer, 2001). To this day, there is resistance to opening stores in underserved urban communities due to "perceived urban obstacles" which is implied as being connected with redlining policies.

This greatly impacts community food access in urban, low-income, and minority neighborhoods. Having no supermarket or grocery store decreases a community's livability by reducing food access and eliminating jobs (Pothukuchi, 2004). Losing a supermarket can add to the perception that the neighborhood is "risky" to invest in and can cause a decline in smaller neighborhood stores. These neighborhoods are also less mobile, many times due to physical barriers such as bodies of water or highways or because there is simply no transportation to get to the supermarket.

For supermarkets that do exist in high-minority, low-income neighborhoods, there is a low availability of affordable fresh and unprocessed foods, and more carbohydrates and processed foods, which lead to micronutrient deficiencies, malnutrition, and obesity (Allen, 2014).

Map indicates historical redlining in Madison Source:

Neighborhoods that are most Impacted

Many of the same neighborhoods that were labeled as "hazardous" or "declining" in the original red-lining policies are still at a disadvantage economically and in relation to food security.

Racial and Ethnic Demographics

Racial and Ethnic Demographics Source:

As seen in these maps, there is high racial and ethnic segregation in Madison. Many of the neighborhoods with high African-American or Latino populations are located in the areas that were redlined during the New Deal.

Families In Poverty overlaid with Grocery Stores and Farmers Markets
Families In Poverty overlaid with Grocery Stores and Farmers Markets Source:
Yellow Squares: Full-Service Grocery Stores
Gray Squares: Limited-Service grocery Stores
Yellow Triangles: Farmers Markets

When looking at the neighborhoods that have concentrated poverty, they are the same neighborhoods that possess a high population of racial and ethnic populations. The dark green and green neighborhoods, with high poverty rates have very little access to full-service supermarkets or farmers markets. Many of the full-service supermarkets that do exist are along the highway, or at the edge of census tract, which makes it difficult for people at the other end of the census tract to reach it. In some neighborhoods, there is only limited-service grocery stores (such as dollar stores and drug stores).

Policy and Food Equity in Madison

The city of Madison focuses on various initiatives to tackle food insecurity.

Neighborhood Resource Teams
Neighborhood Resource Teams are comprised of city staff members that serve specific neighborhoods. They work to create policies and programs as requested and planned by the community. These teams are a way to increase communication, and relationship-building among the City of Madison and the residents of madison to promote equity and improve the quality of life for all residents of Madison's neighborhoods.Many of the NRTs are located in low-income or high need neighborhoods of Madison (City of Madison).
Healthy Food Retail & Underserved Neighborhoods
A) Food Access Improvement Map Using USDA indicators of low access and low-income census tracts. In particular, this addresses the inaccessibility to grocery stores due to physical distance in combination with poverty levels. This also takes into consideration spatial barriers such as roads and bodies of water that block people from reaching grocery stores.

B) The 2017 Healthy Retail Access Program works to increase the availability of healthy food while engaging grocery retailers. They do this through working to provide affordable grocery distribution options, assets in marketing healthy food and plan for new healthy retail. These projects are all located within the underserved areas or target areasas seen on the Food Access Improvement Map.
Community Gardens
According to the City of Madison, the Community Action Coalition for South Central Wisconsin was originally tasked with the responsibility of planning and implementing community gardens throughout Madison. Now the City of Madison is in charge of the support system for UW-Madison. This resulted in the Gardens Network, which joins together the City of Madison, Dane County UW-Extension, and Community GroundWorks to create a plan, a governance structure and a MOU to create a more structured community garden system. This was, in part, funded by the CDBG grant.

This map shows where the various community gardens in Madison are located. Source:
Double Dollars Program
This program increases availability of access to affordable healthy food by offering a dollar for dollar match for all SNAP/FoodShare transactions up to $25 per market day. This service is available at six Farmers markets across Madison, including Dane County Farmers Market, Monona Farmers Market, El Mercadito de Centro, Eastside Farmers Market, Northside Farmers Market and Westside Community Market. This program is inclusive and the only qualification for participating in the program is to have an EBT Card, they do not have to be a Madison or Wisconsin resident. This program is not open to WIC participants; a recommendation for the future is to open it up to WIC participants (City of Madison).
Edible Landscapes
The City of Madison is now making it possible for citizens and communities to plant fruit and nut, and other edible species in parks and on other City-Owned land. This not only encourages community networking, but also healthy eating, and culturally-appropriate eating as it gives people the opportunity to pick healthy fruits and nuts off publicly-owned trees (City of Madison)
Madison Public Market
This is a work in progress that aims to include food retail, wholesaling, processing, arts/crafts, community uses and events in a space that is culturally appropriate, inclusive, and diverse. In October of 2015 the plan was passed and the market is to be opened by 2019. The public market hopes to drive small business opportunities for lower income populations, communities of color, women and other populations who have faced structural barriers in regards to business and food. They also hope to improve food access by having fresh and locally produced food projects. Not only does this work to address food access, but it hopes to encourage whole-health by encouraging healthy food consumption habits through classes. Finally, as mental health issues and isolation serve as compounding variables for families living near or bellow the federal poverty line. This project is seen as a community-driven initiative as of the 2,200 online surveys that were taken by the community in 2014. However, the surveys were only offered online, which may have restricting many populations that could benefit from this project from giving their input. The majority of people who completed this project belong to a demographic that is White and middle/upper-middle class (City of Madison).

Madison Food Policy Council
They are at the public body that develops and recommends policies to the Mayor in order to support the Madison food system, and endorses policies, legislation, and programs that work to better the food system on a national level. This council is comprised of 23 members that represent local and regional food system and Madison Metropolitan School District, advocates and elected officials (City of Madison). Hoping to create a more sustainable food system, this group makes recommendation to the Mayor on policy that can have an impact on food, works with the community and researches what is needed and valued in healthy food systems, create evaluation procedures and create and endorsed policies for national food policy organizations and policy makers.

Their 2014 Action Plan included four goals, which focused on:
1) Developing food and agriculture policy recommendations for Dane County
2) Advocating for food and agricultural policy that supports our vision for Dane County
3) Promoting Public education and Outreach on food and agriculture issues
4) Collaborate with Dane County Food Coalition, Madison Food Policy Council, Healthy Food for All Plan and other community groups in addressing food system and Agriculture issues.

Environmental Impact of Food Waste:
The illustration summarizes how many calories just ONE consumer is wasting and therefore, what the effects are on fresh water usage and oil consumption due to this waste. Source:

Food waste has been a problem for some time now and there shockingly been little discussion on how to solve the problem from a societal perspective. In fact, a study done by Kevin Hall, at the U.S. National Institutes of Health, found that food waste has increased by 50% since 1974. Essentially, in our parent's lifetime food waste has doubled and will continue to increase if there's nothing done about. Food waste occurs due to poor infrastructures and practices, over supply of food at retailers, or because retailers do not have food that is aesthetically pleasing. A report by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) presented that almost one third of the food produced does not make it to the consumer's table. Unfortunately food waste occurs at all socioeconomic levels in fact, the FAO found that at a middle and high class level, there's a greater amount of food that goes to waste especially when looking at consumption.

So how does this impact our environment? Looking at specifically once food gets to a consumer, retailer, or business almost 20 pounds of food is wasted per month. According to Dana Gunders from, Wasted: How America is Losing Up to 40 of Its Food From Farm to Fork to Landfill, only about 3% of our food is composted and the rest ends up in solid waste producing an extensive about of greenhouse gases in our our environment. While in the landfill, food gradually breaks down in methane which is 25 times more powerful than carbon dioxide. When methane is emitted in the air, it absorbs that sun's heat and in result, warms up the atmosphere causing for fluctuations in climate. Not only does this food waste allow for emissions of greenhouse gases but it also causes for additional energy use. A McKinsey study reports that, " household losses are responsible for eight times the energy waste of post-harvest on average due to used along supply chain and in food preparation." In result, not only are consumers basically throwing away money when good is wasted, they are also causing very negatives impacts to the environment. If we can implement more food initiatives and allow consumers access to composting sites, we can save money and help improve our plant!

The chart compares green house gas emitted by transportation, food waste, aviation, and iron/steel. Source:

Redistribution Programs in Madison

Food Waste and Redistribution Organizations in Madison

                       Description and Mission

CSA Coalition

The CSA Coalition contains 50 farms in the Madison Area and provides networking between farms and people, volunteers, and recipes to share.

(Dean 2011)

Food Waste Reduction Task-force

“The Food Waste Reduction Taskforce is currently a seven-member group, comprised of four members of the Madison Food Policy Council (MFPC) and three members of the Dane County Food Council.”


They review city practices in the area of food waste and identify potential partners and stakeholders that could join the city in the area of food waste reduction.

Tipi Produce

Grows 45 crops, with over 400 individual varieties. 500 boxes packed weekly, feed approximately 2,300 people. Acts as a CSA out of Evansville. Remaining produce in fields after harvest is open for harvesting for free; “gleaning”.

Setbacks: Every year, the crops available for gleaning are different. Gleaned vegetables need to be used immediately.

Benefits: 300 families benefit. Children and adults get exposure to farm life.

Half of their crops go to the CSA, and half are sold to Willy Street Co-Op and Whole Foods.

(Dean 2011)

Healthy Food For All

Volunteer-powered group (vegetable pickers, prepared food repackers)

In 2016, cofounder Chris Brockel processed 67,000 pounds of unwanted soup, salad, burritos, and cookies.

With help of Community Action Coalition (CAC), volunteers reroute leftovers from Epic’s kitchens to food pantries and community centers.

Independent, non-profit organization, they accept donations through the Center for Community Stewardship

Based out of FEED kitchens (East-side Madison)

Processes fresh produce from local farms and community gardens for use in food pantries

Setbacks: Prepared food must be used within seven days if it’s refrigerated, longer if frozen.

Requires a lot of volunteers as program expands: some come from the Department of Corrections, vocal rehabilitation programs to sort and repackage. Need more gleaners, produce cleaners, drivers.

(Christians 2017)

Community Action Coalition (CAC)

CAC Gleaners

With help of Healthy Food for All, the CAC reroute leftovers from Epic’s kitchens to food pantries and community centers.


In addition to their food pantry, the CAC also offers a clothing center and financial services to the underserved.


Furthermore, the CAC has a “Gleaners Perishable Food Recovery Program”, which recovers food from grocers, restaurants, bakers, and caterers. The food is then redistributed to people in need at no cost, with 60 volunteers and 100 donors, and distributes approximately 1 million pounds of food per year.

(Christians 2017)

Grocery Stores:


Metcalfe's Market


These stores offer discounting on “ugly produce”.

They use a new app (Date Check Pro) to track “sell-by” dates on cereals, rice.


Metcalfe’s has staff put discount coupons next to items to inform consumers when goods are about to expire.

(Christians 2017)

Goodman Community Center


Food Pantry Coordinator: Jon Lica

Goodman Community is the host of the Seed to Table program for teens (see below).


The community center also has fitness activities, social justice and youth empowerment groups (like Girls, Inc.), child care, gardens, and a food pantry.

Second Harvest


Food Resource Manager: Danielle Lawson

Second Harvest is a Southern Wisconsin food bank.


They redirect all food donated, except 4 percent.


They completed a 4,800 square foot freezer expansion in 2016 to allow for the storage of more donated goods.

They have regular pick-ups at grocery stores, redistributing usable goods to 16 counties in S. Wisconsin.

(Christians 2017)

Rooted Curbside Compost


Founder: Bartlett Holmes in 2012

Holmes picks up food waste from some 50 homes and a few other locations, including an elementary school in Middleton, the dining hall at Edgewood College and a UW Credit Union branch on University Avenue.


Pickup of five gallon buckets costs $6 a week, and bucket is replaced with a new one weekly.


Holmes and team turn food scraps into rich soil for supporting local organic farms.

Earth Stew Composting Services


Owner: Joanne Tooley in 2013

(608) 213-6990

Tooley uses vermiculture (worms) to process food waste.

She has compost piles on farms north of Madison and bins of worms in a facility in Waunakee.

She works with about 50 residents and several small businesses. Her clients include Madison Sourdough, the Willy Street Co-op’s east, west and office locations and the Department of Natural Resources on the west side.


Earth Stew charges $34 per month for weekly pickup, $21 for every other week or $15 for once a month pick up of a four- to five-gallon bucket.


She offers the nutrient-rich fertilizer her worms have produced back to clients for their gardens and sells to shoppers at farmers’ markets.

(Christians 2017)

Elderberry Hill Farm

Erin Elderbrock


Elderberry Hill Farm works with Healthy Food for All and is located in Blue Mounds.

They invites volunteers to pick the produce the farm can’t sell.


(Christians 2017)

Ugly Apple


Founder: Laurel Burleson, November 2016

Burleson creates frittatas, mini-fritters, pancakes and other breakfast food with “ugly” produce that would’ve otherwise been tossed out.

Produce she can’t save go into a compost heap.

Her food cart is located on the square (Cisar 2016).

(Christians 2017)

Madison Restaurants:

  • Liliana’s
  • Madison Sourdough Company
  • Underground Butcher
  • Fair Oaks Diner
  • Plaza Tavern


Harvest Chef: Matt Schieble


Dave Heide (Liliana’s); Fitchburg

David (Liliana’s) makes soup using veggie leftovers/ scraps.


The other mentioned restaurants send scraps to be composted rather than thrown away.

(Christians 2017)

Date Check Pro

Date Check Pro is a Madison based software program that helps grocery stores track expiration dates. This gives stores the opportunity to offer discounts (such as Metcalfe’s or Woodmans) to goods about to expire soon.

Middleton Outreach Ministry (MOM)


The Middleton Outreach Ministry offers a food pantry that operates year round, six days a week, and feeds over 4,000 people monthly, including 2,000 children.


In 2015, MOM distributed 100,000 pounds of food per month (1.3 million pounds that year), with over 200 volunteers.


MOM teams with Second Harvest and the CAC.

Seed to Table


In collaboration with Community GroundWorks, East High School, and Goodman Community Center, this “experiential curriculum” works with youth to teach them employment skills, life cycle of plants, and the connection between growing, cooking, and consuming foods.


Offers cooking classes, agricultural education, with a focus on science concepts, English, social studies, math and art, all based in hands-on activities, either in the field or in the kitchen.  


In four consecutive summers, Seed to Table saved 3,000 lbs of produce through canning, dehydrating and freezing fresh produce.

UW-Madison’s Food Recovery Network


The UW-Madison’s Food Recovery Network has 15 UW Madison students who gather leftover perishable foods from dining halls and distribute them to local shelters or non-profits that serve those in need.

F.H. King Students for Sustainable Agriculture


Urban agriculture manager: Dane McKittrick

From mid-April through early October, Full Cycle Freight makes weekly pickups of food waste at 10 drop sites, including Sardine, Marigold Kitchen, Espresso Royale and a residence at 512 E. Johnson St.


They maintain the cargo bikes Full Cycle uses to get 300 pounds of food scraps out to a community garden at Eagle Heights, where they grow fresh produce for campus community.


Setback: With only 7-9 interns, they are “intern-limited” and without pay.

River Food Pantry


Andy Czerkas, co-founder

Located in the North side of Madison, the River feeds more than 600 families per week, or 2 million pounds of food per year.

They also serve 550+ hot meals weekly and distribute mobile packed lunches on each non-school day.


In 2016, they received 31,400 family visits. 39% are children or seniors.

Local Thyme

Local Thyme is a CSA planning service that offers cooking courses, demos and monthly recipes. It was founded by Pat Mulvey in 2012.

Community GroundsWork

Community GroundWorks is a non-profit organization that connects people with nature and food, offering courses in agricultural education and culinary arts, urban farming, hands-on education for both children and adults with gardening, and natural areas restoration.


They manage 26 acres of open space for community-based food production, in an effort to improve food security for Madison’s Northside residents.

Badger Prairie Needs Networks


The Badger Prairie Needs Network is open for Verona Area School District residents. They can use the food pantry once a month, with free community meals served weekly.


In addition, they host nutrition classes, community cooking classes and offer a Seed-2-Supper program which has community garden plots for residents to grow organic produce for the kitchen programs and food pantry.

National Food Access and Redistribution Programs

Consumer Education Campaign
The campaign is a nation wide campaign that helps raise awareness and educate consumers on ways to prevent food waste. Some challenges that the campaign faces is that many house holds are throwing away food due to poor family planning or inability to consume food in a time planner. The campaign has found that although many people are aware of the problem, they do not know how to fix the problem in their own households. In result of the program, Walmart ran a video in their checkout lines educating consumer on how they could reduce waste and save money. Another part the campaign that was started is called Save the Food which is meant to target to millennials. The program is a three year initiative that helps communicate how to reduce food waste and save money on food.
(Consumer Education Campaign).

Donation Matching Software
This matching software allows for real time pickup and deliveries. Donations under 50 pounds are usually expensive for food recovery systems to pick up. The donations matching software allows for a food recovery system to pick up multiple donations at one time and even offers the most efficient routes to recover the food. This software has recovered 250 million meals and has reduced greenhouse gases by 555K tons. However, a challenge to the program is that donor and food recovery systems must be familiar with the software and also, cost of transportation can get slightly pricey. (Donation Matching Software).

Donation Tax Incentives
In December 2015, Congress passes an initiative that was allow for tax breaks for anyone who chose to donate food. Farms, businesses, restaurants, or retailers are allowed to receive any tax incentives from the government. However, some challenges that businesses may face is that they might find it difficult claiming tax benefits and the benefits might be too small to even claim. The program has recovered approximately 638M meals/year. (Donation Tax Incentives).

Community Composting
An example of this initiative is a business called The Lower East Side Ecology Center in New York City. The programs provides the residents with free food-waste disposal programs. The compost is adding to soils that helps with potting plants and is sold. The drop off areas are mainly located in Manhattan but allow easy access to urban folks would not be leaving Manhattan. The program allows fruits, vegetables, bread, grains and various other non-meat or dairy products to be composted. Although the programs as a negative economic value, it has allowed for a produced of 230 jobs and reduced greenhouse emissions by 163K tons.(Community Composting).

Standardized Date Labeling
Currently consumers are confused by "sell-by" or "best-by" food labels on food packaging. Leading to 90% of Americans to throwing perfectly good food that could still be consumed. These leads to tremendous amount of food waste and additional food that lands up in landfills that could have been prevented. The Food Recovery Act is trying to standardized the labels on food packaging products by being more specific. Food companies would have to have three different labels: "Best if Used By," "Manufacturer's Suggestion Only," and "Expires On." So far by trial, this has reduced 1,593K tons of greenhouse gases emission and would in addition prevent food waste due to confusion of labels by consumers.(Standardized Date Labeling).

International Food Access and Redistribution Programs

Olio: Join the Food Sharing Revolution:
Olio is a smart phone app that was started in London by two women, Sasha Celestial-One and Tessa Cook. This app helps connect neighbors, restaurants, groceries, and other local businesses to prevent any surplus food or other items from going to waste. Here's how it works: download the app using a smart phone, take a picture of the food or item you wish to share, add a description, and when/where is it is available for picture. Users who want to pick up food or item can privately contact the owner and arrange everything from there. Since Olio has been created, they have saved 85,303 items from going to waste. The app is available in 41 countries and various cities in the United States; however there are no businesses in the Madison area that are connected with the app. Incorporating the app with local food pantries would help local food pantries find items on a daily basis that they would not otherwise be able to obtain. For example, for people who know they're not going to be able to eat their vegetables during the day, those vegetables can be posted on Olio and someone from the food pantry could pick it up. A problem with this is that food pantries run off of many volunteers and if they don't have enough volunteers to help drive or to help out, they wouldn't be able to obtain these items (Oilo Food Revolution).

Culinary Misfits
This program was started by two friends, Lea Emma Brumsack and Tanja Krakowski, in Berlin, Germany. The goal of their project is two take the ugly fruits and vegetables from grocery stores and farmers market and to turn them into something beautiful and tasty! The two friends host food events;; that are mainly made up of the food they rescued. Madison provides a similar service called Meals on Wheels, these two ideas could come together to not only prevent food waste but also food access for those who live in food deserts. Essentially bringing a food cart for free or reduced cost to areas that do not have grocery stores or healthier alternatives to fast food restaurants (Culinary Misfits).

University of Cincinnati SolerCool
Although this program was designed by MBA students from the University Cincinnati, it was an idea that was taken over seas to India. The design is a solar powered refrigeration system that keeps food at a cool temperature during the day and even during the night. The system also has a battery that is charged during the day through eight solar panels. In India, restaurants lose about 30 to 40% of food due to lack of refrigeration systems and about 40% of population, even in the most industrialized states, have electricity. In the United States electricity is not has large of an issue; however, there are some areas that do not have adequate access to electricity. This would definitely help solve that problem but also help store food for the homeless. Restaurants or grocery stores could leave any left over food in the refrigerators and if someone was hungry, they would be able to take the food they needed. Preventing food waste and redistributing foods to those who are not able to afford it (University of Cincinnati SolerCool).

Songhai Center
The Songhai Center is a sustainable development program that was started in Sub-Saharan Africa. The organization was started in 1985 by a priest named, Godfrey Nazamujo. Between 1982 and 1983, a large part of Africa was experiencing abundant famine and severe drought causing very little hope for reconstruction. The organization was created to teach and train young agricultural entrepreneurs various skills that would rebuild Proto-Novo agricultural land and sense of community. This type of organization can be implemented any where; however, the limiting factor is capital. Many food pantries offer similar training programs on how to grows foods and then how to incorporate vegetables and fruits into meals. What would be an interesting project for Madison would be to start a community garden where vegetables and fruits would be easily accessible but a training program would allow residents to learn about how to grow and produce food. (Songhai Center).


    The goal of this project was to study the mechanisms of food inequity in Madison, study the initiatives that the City of Madison and non-profits are running to address this issue, and to compare these initiatives with programs across the globe. Are Madison programs that target food security and food redistribution working to address the issue or are there aspects of these programs that can be improved on? Overall, the city-wide initiatives are targeting the communities that have historically been at a disadvantage due to discriminatory policies such as redlining. Specifically, the NRTs work with communities to come up with interventions to issues that the community is facing. Additionally, they are working to bring in smaller food retailers into areas that have been lacking full-service grocery stores for decades. These interventions are very surface level but do have a large impact because they give each community control over their livelihoods and futures. Addressing food security in a well-rounded manner means implementing programs that bring in businesses and jobs into disadvantaged communities without gentrifying these areas, investing in schools in the area to make education a true pathway out of poverty, encouraging community cohesion by investing in parks, sidewalks and community centers. Madison does not have many initiatives that focus on educating privileged communities about food inequity and food waste in Madison. By creating educational programs that target all communities, there will hopefully be a more concerted effort from everyone in addressing food inequity, not just those that belong to poor, minority neighborhoods or those that work for a non-profit or for the City of Madison.

    Food waste recovery and distribution programs are useful from an ecological and environmental standpoint because instead of contributing to landfills and carbon emissions, they are being redirected in ways that they are put to use. From a social sustainability standpoint, these programs do not impact the intersectional causes of food insecurity. As stated before, there must be comprehensive programmatic changes in the areas of urban planning, education, community development, economy, and health in order to achieve true food equity.

      Limitations and Next Steps

      This study was limited because we were unable to get in contact with legislators, staff of the Madison Mayor's office, or members of the Neighborhood resource teams. Thus, the information gathered in reference to currently devised or to-be-implemented food access and equity programs from the Mayor's office may not be up to date. Furthermore, we were unable to carry out a community needs assessment and reach out to member of the community that fall under high target areas. Thus, we are unsure if these programs and policies are truly making an impact.

      Further research must be done on existing programs and policies in Madison. Future steps for this study is to create an open-access website for community members, legislators and nonprofits to add to the list of resources. Additionally, in order to study the impact of these food programs, a qualitative study must be done involving low-income, low-access communities.

      Allen, H. (n.d.). A Strategic Vision for the Future: City of Madison Racial Equity and Social Justice Initiative. Baseline Report and Initial Recommendations . Retrieved April, 2014. Web.

      Bonanno, A, and Li, J. ( 2012). Food Insecurity and Food Access. Retrieved March 16, 2017. Web.

      Christians, Lindsay (2017). Watching Madison's Waste line: Keeping Food From the Landfill, One Leek at a Time. Cap Times. Web.

      Christians, Lindsay (2016). Soups and Salads Go from Epic Systems Cafeterias to Food Pantry Shelves. Cap Times.Web.

      City of Madison Equity Initiatives. (2016). Retrieved from nts/Equity2014.pdf

      Cisar, Katjusa (2016). Let's Eat: Ugly Apple Food Carts Turns Homely Produce into Homey Breakfast. Cap Times. Web.

      City of Madison. Food Waste Reduction Taskforce. Accesses on April 20, 2017.Web.

      Community Composting. (n.d.). Retrieved April 12, 2017, from

      Council, A. (n.d.). Save The Food. Retrieved April 12, 2017, from

      Culinary Misfits. (n.d.). Retrieved April 12, 2017, from

      Donation Matching Software. (n.d.). Retrieved April 12, 2017, from

      Donation Tax Incentives. (n.d.). Retrieved April 12, 2017, from

      Dean, Katie (2011). Table Talk: Plenty of Produce for the Picking. Web.

      Eisenhauer, E. (2001). In Poor Health: Supermarket redlining and urban nutrition. GeoJournal, 53(2), 125-133.

      Food Access Improvement Map. (2015, July). Retrieved from ighborhoods/food-access-improvement-map

      Food Share/ EBT. (2017). Dane County Farmers Market. Retrieved April 18, 2017 from

      Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO). 2013. Food Wastage Footprint: Impacts of Natural Resources, Summary Report. Web.10 Mar. 2017.

      Gunders, D. (2012). Waste: How American is Losing Up to 40 of Its Food From Farm to Fork to Landfill. National Resources Defense Council. From

      Hall, K. D., Guo, J., Dore, M., & Chow, C. C. (2009). The Progressive Increase of Food Waste in America and Its Environmental Impact. PLoS ONE, 4(11), e7940.

      Healthy Food Access. (2017). Healthy Food Access Portal. Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Retrieved from

      Heckmen, Nick. (June, 2016). Hunger and Food Security in Wisconsin & Dane County

      Natural resources and environmental impacts of food systems. (2016). Food Systems and Natural Resources, 72-98. doi:10.18356/bc6c6aa1-en

      Natural Resources Defense Council (2014, November). Saving Leftover Saves Money and Resources.

      Pothukuchi, K. (2004). Community food assessment: A first step in planning for community food security. Journal of Planning Education and Research , 23 (4), 356-377.

      Racial Equity & Social Justice Initiative. (n.d.). Retrieved March 16, 2017, from

      R. Dobbs et al., “Resource Revolution: Meeting the World’s Energy, Materials, Food, and Water Needs,” McKinsey Global Institute, November 2011.

      Robert K. Nelson, LaDale Winling, Richard Marciano, Nathan Connolly, et al., “Mapping Inequality,” American Panorama, ed. Robert K. Nelson and Edward L. Ayers, accessed April 10, 2017,

      Standardize Date Labeling. (n.d.). Retrieved April 12, 2017, from


      This project would not have been successful without the contributions of the outstanding students in our Food Systems, Sustainability, and Climate Change class.  We would particularly like to acknowledge the wonderful and challenging questions, and the specific knowledge that students with different areas of expertise provided.  

      Keywords:Case Study   Doc ID:70541
      Owner:Michel W.Group:DS 471 Food Production Systems and Sustainability
      Created:2017-02-08 14:05 CDTUpdated:2019-01-28 10:47 CDT
      Sites:DS 471 Food Production Systems and Sustainability
      Feedback:  0   0