More than 35 years ago, Dr. Milton J. Huber, a professor of public affairs at the University of Wisconsin- Milwaukee, suggested to Milwaukee Rotarians Price Davis and Arthur Riemer, that the Rotary Club of Milwaukee adopt a food bank project that would help get excess food to people facing hunger.
The notion was simple: Instead of plowing under excess crops or discarding product due to slight defects in packaging or weight, we could help reduce food waste by connecting food resources to those facing hunger.
Davis and Riemer were all in. Armed with research from Huber, they soon gained the support of other Rotarians. The group worked for two years, securing funding and a facility and forming the first board of directors, which Davis chaired. On Aug. 1, 1982, America’s Second Harvest of Wisconsin, now known as Feeding America Eastern Wisconsin, opened its doors in a small warehouse on the south side of Milwaukee. Our first donation was 600 pounds of apples we received from a local grower.
The food bank soon outgrew its space and the City of Milwaukee sold this current piece of property to the organization for $1. We expanded again in 1987, thanks to the generosity of Joe and Jennifer Tate.
We’ve come a long way since those early days. Today, Feeding America Eastern Wisconsin is the leading hunger relief organization in the state, operating food banks in Milwaukee and the Fox Valley.
Together, with a network of about 600 member organizations, we provide food to nearly 400,000 people each year.
Our mission has also expanded. Improving access to healthy and nutritious food for those facing hunger remains the foundation of our work. Truly solving hunger, though, requires us to dig deeper. It takes all of us working together as a community to define and solve the root causes of hunger – and we’re doing just that.
We are proud members of Feeding America, a national network of more than 200 food banks across the country, and the largest domestic hunger-relief agency here in the United States.