Food/nutrition top concern of community members

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West CAP has recently released the results of its latest Community Needs Assessment, giving comprehensive data about the current needs and concerns of low-income individuals and families across seven counties in west central Wisconsin.

Among the results, food and nutrition was identified as the factor that had the most impact on low-income households over the past year, with employment/income ranking second, and physical health third.

West CAP conducts a Community Needs Assessment every three years to gather feedback from low-income individuals residing in their service area, which includes Barron, Chippewa Dunn, Pepin, Pierce, Polk and St. Croix counties.

The survey is a requirement of the Federal Community Service Block Grant of which they are a recipient, and it asks about a variety of topics including housing, transportation, health, employment, education, and food/nutrition services. The results help the agency and community partners gain a deeper understanding of the area’s current needs in order to adjust and improve programming to meet those needs. Focus groups were also held to gain a deeper understanding of survey results.

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The report was completed by a total of 156 community members who reported an income level at or below 250% of the federal poverty level, and 27 community partner participants. Catalyst at the University of Wisconsin-Stout was chosen to administer and analyze the results of the household survey. Some of the assessment findings include:

  • 47% of respondents were unable to afford fruits and vegetables each week this past year.
  • 34% of respondents have been or have a household member who has been homeless.
  • 47% of respondents indicated that they were moderately or extremely concerned about paying for utility bills, which ranked highest in housing-related needs.
  • 58% of respondents indicated moderate or extreme concern about their own mental health, with 38% indicating an extreme concern.
  • 40% of respondents indicated Yes to either themselves or family members being a victim of domestic violence.
  • 45% of respondents indicated concern about being able to afford car service/repairs.

Results also include responses to legal-related needs, financial literacy, child care needs, as well as results of the Focus Group discussions. All of the responses were aggregated, and results are presented within a full report available on the West CAP website at www.westcap.org.

Established in 1965, West CAP was one of the first community action agencies established in Wisconsin. Since then, West CAP has worked to promote the self-sufficiency of low-income families in the rural communities of west central Wisconsin by providing food access, housing assistance, energy assistance, weatherization, adult education, advocacy and more. Contact West CAP by calling 715-598-4750 or visit https://westcap.org to learn more.

The Biden administration has vowed to end hunger in America by 2030.