Shoppers enter a mobile grocery store

Getting food to where it is needed most

When Laura Peracchio thinks about how to fight hunger, she starts by looking at what nonprofits already do well. One of the best examples she’s found is Milwaukee’s Hunger Task Force.

“There are gigantic food deserts in Milwaukee,” says Peracchio, the Judith H. and Gale E. Klappa endowed professor of marketing in the Lubar School of Business. “There’s a supply of food in Milwaukee, but if you’re living in poverty, you don’t always have access.”

To alleviate that, Hunger Task Force runs a mobile grocery store called the Fresh Picks Mobile Market. It goes directly to food deserts to sell fresh produce, dairy products and meat at discounted rates. The organization’s MyPlate initiative also aims to provide more balanced, nutritious food at its food banks.

Shoppers select food at a mobile grocery store.
Shoppers select food at a mobile grocery store. (UWM Photo/Elora Hennessey)

Peracchio is part of a group of researchers from the United States and the United Kingdom who are examining successful endeavors like this one. Their goal: Create a model that provides better access to nutritious food for impoverished people. Peracchio also seeks to improve the marketing efforts of nonprofits so they can better reach their constituents.

“Hunger Task Force provides an example for others to follow,” Peracchio says. “We have theoretical concepts about what a successful nonprofit should do, but on their own, they’re just ideas. Success is more attainable when we look at Hunger Task Force initiatives that embody the ideas and have a real-world impact.”

Hunger Task Force also runs a farm and teaches Milwaukee Public Schools students about nutrition and cooking. Peracchio says educating people about nutrition and letting them choose healthy food improves their food well-being, which she defines as an individual’s or community’s positive psychological, physical, emotional and social relationship with food.