Ideas developed in Urban Planning capstone course become reality for Ozaukee Food Alliance new location

The Ozaukee Food Alliance recently celebrated the opening of its new location, a milestone made possible in large part thanks to the collaborative efforts among the nonprofit organization and Urban Planning students, faculty and staff.

Working closely with the former Saukville Food Pantry, students in Associate Professor Carolyn Esswein’s Urban Planning capstone course crafted a comprehensive report and plan that not only addressed logistical challenges but also embraced the essence of community engagement. From refining name branding to outlining program priorities, every detail was meticulously considered to ensure a seamless transition to the Alliance’s new home.

The project gained momentum under the guidance of Esswein through SARUP’s Community Design Solutions (CDS), concepts evolved into tangible drawings that mirrored the aspirations of the Alliance.

Those drawings helped raise $1.1 million, plus an outpouring of in-kind donations, fortifying Ozaukee Food Alliance’s capacity to serve the community.

The Tripar building, once a vacant space, now stands as a testament to the power of collaboration. The remarkable resemblance between the CDS drawings and the renovated building underscores the efficacy of the student-led vision.

The move to a larger, renovated facility was a critical step for the Alliance to expand its mission of curbing food insecurity in Ozaukee County.

“Already, the new space has been a game-changer,” said Sara Benesh Pashak, President of the Food Alliance Board. “We can now serve more people in the same amount of time due to enhanced efficiency and accessibility. We’re adding more open hours because we can now take in and stock more food. Every bit of what we’ve done here, and what all these fabulous community members have supported, is in pursuit of alleviating food insecurity… We came together to help our neighbors. It’s as simple as that.”

As the community gathered to celebrate the successful culmination of this endeavor, heartfelt gratitude extended to the Ozaukee Food Alliance, the visionary students of SARUP, and the countless community members who rallied behind this cause. Together, they have demonstrated the profound impact of collective action while reaffirming the important role of community engagement in education.