Local student works to end food insecurity

A senior at Mount Horeb High School is working to end food insecurity, and she hopes the community will join her in her effort. 

Ellie Lombardo, a member of the Class of 2021, is currently taking Beth Maglio’s “Social Problems” class. As part of her coursework, she is required to identify a local problem and enact an action plan that will help solve it. Lombardo selected food insecurity and is working with Neighbors Helping Neighbors, a local non-profit, to drum up support, and funding, to help those in need. 

“I chose this topic for my class project because food insecurity is a relevant issue in the world and our community, and the COVID-19 pandemic has only uncovered more of the problem,” Lombardo explained. 

“Even with a small picture I understand how complex this issue is; there is no single cause or solution,” she admitted. But that isn’t deterring her from doing what she can to help.

“In order to decrease food insecurity rates in our communities, we all have to work together, and for me that was raising money to help a local non-profit that works to provide those in our community with the help they need,” she explained. 

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) defines food insecurity as a lack of consistent access to enough food for an active, healthy life. USDA data shows that about 10.5 percent of the country was affected in 2019, but new estimates from research at the Brookings Institution and Northwestern suggest food insecurity rates dramatically increased in 2020 and could be much higher in some places. 

According to Lombardo’s research, Mount Horeb is not immune to the problem, despite its relative wealth. 

“If you ask someone to identify a food problem in the United States, they will most likely say obesity, even though food insecurity rates in Dane County exceed one in three individuals in some of the most vulnerable groups,” she said. 

With the problem identified, Lombardo set out to come up with a solution. At first she considered doing a food drive, but further research showed that Neighbors Helping Neighbors could make funds go much further than most individuals could when it came to procuring food items. 

“All the money raised in this fundraiser will go directly to Neighbors Helping Neighbors,” she said. “I volunteered this past year with them with food distribution, [and] through that I learned they can buy food for less, and with the help of Second Harvest [Food Bank] they can buy food for 18 cents a pound. So what it would take for you or I to buy a jar of spaghetti sauce - approximately $4 -  Neighbors Helping Neighbors can acquire it for 18 cents, making their money go further, and making a fundraiser much more effective to help more people than a food drive.” 

To donate, visit tinyurl.com/NHN-FundsDrive or scan the QR code included with this article.

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