New program aims to increase food security for expectant mothers in Wisconsin

NOW: New program aims to increase food security for expectant mothers in Wisconsin


MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- A new pilot program will use monthly food boxes to help increase food security for local mothers.

Wisconsin DHS reports the state is below the national average when it comes to pregnancy-related deaths per year, but the disparity between black and white women is greater here. With the maternal mortality rate in mind, Birthworkers United joined forces with Feeding America Eastern Wisconsin to help pregnant women of color at a higher risk for pregnancy-related death through a new pilot program.

"Even in the clinic, some of my colleagues [and I], we would go grocery shopping for our patients," Founder of Birthworkers United Vanessa Johnson said during the announcement of the program on Wednesday.

The program, called The Nurturing Collaborative, will provide up to 200 participants with free "nourishment boxes" filled with healthy food every month for a year.

"That's one of the hardest things for us as mothers, is having a support system," Milwaukee mom Kimberly Diaz said. "There are a lot of families out there that may not have that support. Stress is the number one killer, and I hate to say it, but it is."

Along with monthly food packages, three times a year, families will get boxes filled with items from minority-owned businesses, specifically based on the needs of babies and their parents. These are what Johnson calls "nurturing boxes."

"Representation matters. I feel like if we're serving this population, they need to know that we were intentional about putting items in the nurturing boxes, adding items to the nourishment boxes, that are being led by people who look like them," Johnson said.

Whether it is candles, crystals or dental supplies, these boxes will focus on self-care.

"Self-care is very important. We often forget about ourselves when we do give birth because we're so focused on what the kids need, and we don't think about 'let's go take a nice bath' or something," Diaz said.

Workshops on wellness-focused topics will also be provided throughout the year to participants, including yoga and cooking classes and workshops on mental health.

There are 200 spots available for the program, registration opens on Wednesday, Feb. 1. If you would like to register, visit the Feeding America website.

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