The documentary What We’re Hungry For: How Food Pantries Fed Rural Wisconsin During the Pandemic (trailer: https://vimeo.com/498142539/1e3d0a9745) tells the story of hunger in rural Wisconsin during the twelve-month period of March of 2020-March of 2021 through the eyes and voices of five directors of rural food pantries/food banks. We see the ways that local food pantries and their communities first responded to the sudden surge in demand, and then saw how demand for emergency food ebbed and rose depending on the availability and effectiveness of the federal pandemic response.
This story is told primarily through the words of those who are on the front lines of this struggle--including Kenosha County's own Sharon Pomaville from the Sharing Center. We follow Marty Lee, a 62-year-old woman who during the pandemic created a brand new mobile pantry system from scratch to serve nine towns in the rural "food desert" of Waushara County. We spend time with Marlon Skenandore, head of the Oneida Emergency Food Pantry, where a close-knit agricultural community provides a uniquely holistic alternative to the traditional model of corporate donations among food pantries. We look at efforts to combat the shame and stigmatization often associated with hunger, including a small town pantry in Western Kenosha County that operates secret late night hours so individuals can get the food they need without being seen by their friends and neighbors.
This examination of meeting hunger and food insecurity during the pandemic illuminates long-standing problems in America, and shows how relying on charity and food banks will never end hunger. The need for local innovations, systemic change, and above all, how reframing food insecurity from “feeding America” to “nourishing America” is essential. The perspectives of these five local leaders is supplemented with interviews, including with Andy Fisher, author of Big Hunger: The Unholy Alliance between Corporate America and Anti-Hunger Groups and Roger Thurow, author of The Last Hunger Season and The First Thousand Days: A Crucial Time for Mothers and Children—and the World and representatives from Feeding America Eastern Wisconsin and the Wisconsin Hunger Relief Federation.