Feed Darbo Neighbors and Help Reduce Food Waste!

Families in the Darbo Worthington Neighborhood of Madison no longer have access to a traditional neighborhood food pantry. The Salvation Army closed their pantry that fed upwards of 30 families per week due to a lack of volunteer and staff resources in October 2018. Without staff and volunteers, it wasn't possible to keep the shelves stocked and the doors open.

The Darbo Worthington Neighborhood is a food desert for those who don’t drive or have low incomes. It's located near plenty of fast food places, liquor stores and predatory payday lenders, but the closest place to shop for affordable food is Woodman’s East.

The Darbo Pantry Project seeks to address this problem through cutting edge, innovative ways of providing a wider, healthier range of food options to low income families. DPP is a new project started up by Joe Mingle, Jeanie Verschay and others known locally for their growing efforts to increase food access while reducing food waste in Madison. 

DPP's goals include not only providing assistance to 50+ families in need of food assistance in the neighborhood but also addressing Madison’s growing food waste problem. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) estimates that around 40% of the US’s produced food ends up as food waste and that those numbers can be higher in ‘foodie’ cities such as Madison. 


Redistribution of surplus food that might otherwise end up in the landfills addresses multiple community concerns simultaneously.  It increase food security for neighbors in need, reduces the distance our food travels and reduces the volume of food entering areas landfills.  Working together to recover otherwise wasted food also creates opportunities to bring the community together and for all of us to learn how reducing food waste benefits both stuggling families and the environment.

You can help, give now!

The DPP crew have over a decade of experience working on food access and food waste reduction with extensive expertise working in the Darbo Worthington neighborhood on food access issues. The DPP organizers are primed to implement the following:

Ensure the continued availability of traditional pantry offerings in the community center.

Work with East Pointe Apartments to keep similar items stocked in their offices.

Organize a monthly community meal in the neighborhood with surplus prepared food.

Distribute stocks of fresh and frozen prepared food collected from local corporate kitchens and caterers.

Deliver free weekly bags of mixed local produce directly to subscriber households once the growing season is in full swing!

Why GoFundMe?

We have a plan, the expertise,  connections to food and deep roots in the community but need to cover the start up costs quickly and need your help to make it happen! These costs include collecting the food from around the County, gas, storage space, printing, containers and basic staff time.

Our goal is to get started before the school year ends. Many of the families we intend to serve have children who currently receive at least one meal a day at school.  Unfortunately, that’s about to change due to the end of the school year.  If all our friends, community supporters, and allied food activists would chip in, we can jump start this project before the Summer break!

Your donation of $25, $50, $100 or more would be a great help towards getting things rolling quickly! But every donation counts, so please donate whatever you can. If you can’t give, help spread the word. GoFundMe Campaigns are fed not just by the financial contributions of individual donors but by people spreading the word to those who can help fund the campaign.

How will we get all the produce for this effort?

Happily,  Dane County is a rich agricultural area with a strong network of produce farmers who have a long tradition of sharing their harvest. Working closely with our community partners like Healthy Food For All of Dane County , we can tap into our already existing network of area farmers who donate surplus produce.

We’ll also be expanding collection of donated produce at select area farmers’ markets through our innovative Buy One For A Neighbor (BOFAN)  project. Many farmers donate surplus produce at the end of farmers’ markets and last year we took it one step further. By asking market shoppers to Buy One For A Neighbor and immediately donate the produce, we were able to massively increase the amount of produce donated while also increasing farmers’ revenue!


Between BOFAN, direct gleaning from local farms and produce grown specifically for free distribution, we can actually generate an almost overwhelming volume of produce at the height of the growing season. This new model of delivering bags directly to subscriber households is, in fact, an attempt to expand the channels for distributing all the perishable local produce available!

Where will we get the surplus prepared food for the community meals?

Our primary community partner, Healthy Food For All, currently collects surplus prepared food from American Family Insurance’s Headquarters, Monona Terrace Convention Center and select smaller locations. This season, HFFA will be greatly expanding collection of surplus prepared food through new partnerships with a list of local caterers and events.

Through years of work managing surplus food from Epic Systems, American Family and others, we’ve developed tried and true methods for collecting, repacking and distributing literally everything from soup to nuts. Building on our past work with surplus prepared food, we’re poised to substantially expand the volume of recovered food we’ll have to distribute.

How exactly will the money you donate be used?

Honestly, the bulk of the initial start up proceeds are needed to staff up with organizers to quickly pull it all together.  The Salvation Army pantry just closed in the October 2018, so this project is a response to the urgent, growing need for greater food access in the neighborhood.  None of the community partners involved have any money budgeted for this effort so we're appealing to the community for support!

We also intend to employ some neighbors to help manage food distribution and the community meals.  Hopefully, we'll also be able to recruit some strong, young people to help with much of the heavy lifting!  Hauling big crates of vegetables and trays of prepared food around is hard work, so we'll need some extra hands as the volumes we distribute increase.

There are also other significant costs like transportation, food containers, bookkeeping services, printing and extra food for community meals we need to cover.  We have a detailed working budget but it's really speculative since we don't really know how much we can raise.  

The model we're developing for distributing donated produce and prepared food is very replicable and scalable.  Literally, the more money we can raise the more food we can collect and distribute.  We hope you will help us far exceed our goal which would allow us to expand quickly this season to serve families in other nearby neighborhoods also!

How will we sustain this effort over time?

This project will no doubt require some base level staff support over time to sustain it.  With the short start up timeline, we haven't time to develop a core of volunteers or create a base of sponsors and donors.  We believe there is strong community support for helping this particular neigborhood and promoting new, innovative models for increasing food access while reducing food waste.

As the project matures, we plan to transition from a staff led project to a volunteer driven organization.  Most food pantries and other food access projects rely heavily on volunteer labor especially to repackage and deliver food to those in need.  We plan to undergird a solid volunteer base with a small staff likely totalling less than 1 full time person.  We anticipate cultivating a consistent base of individual donors and sponsors who will ensure some base level support for the project going forward.

If you have any questions or suggestions, please don't hestitate to contact us for more details!

The Darbo Pantry Project -- Creating fresh, contemporary models for increasing food access while reducing food waste.  Please help us by making a donation now!


Donations (0)

  • Barbara Furstenberg 
    • $50 
    • 5 mos
  • Helena White 
    • $20 
    • 5 mos
  • Anonymous 
    • $25 
    • 5 mos
  • Mary Bauschelt 
    • $50 
    • 5 mos
  • Danielle Lynch 
    • $30 
    • 5 mos


Joe Mingle 
Madison, WI
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