Live United Spotlight
Dan Taivalkoski, Executive Director of the Racine County Food Bank
Sept. 17, 2019
Dan Taivalkoski is the champion who leads one of United Way's crucial partner providers, the Racine County Food Bank. This agency has been fighting hunger in Racine County for 30 years, distributing more than one million pounds of food annually.
How do you and the Racine County Food Bank work with United Way to build an educated workforce in Racine County?
Hunger is an income issue. If you have sufficient income, you have the ability to purchase nutritious food for yourself and your family.
Families’ lack of sufficient income in many cases can be traced to a lack of education. Building an educated workforce starts with children; they learn to read until they’re six or seven years old, after which they read to learn. Children experiencing hunger often have ongoing health issues that can make it more difficult for them to concentrate and learn in school—or even to struggle to regularly make it to the classroom.
With help from United Way of Racine County, the Racine County Food Bank works with a network of emergency food pantries and meal programs to provide nutritious food to individuals and families. Together, we aim to eliminate the food insecurity that can be a barrier to health, education and financial stability, the basic building blocks of a successful life.
What about United Way drives you to remain involved with its work?
We’re both working towards the same goal: to eliminate the root causes of hunger and poverty in our community. United Way is leading this effort.
I think it’s important for the community to understand that achieving that goal is going to be difficult. In today’s world, many seek fast fixes and instant results. It took us more than a generation to evolve into this situation as higher paying, low-skill jobs declined, and it’s going to take us a considerable amount of time to reverse. However, I’m convinced that we’re on the right track, capturing relevant data that will inform us when we’re moving the needle in the right direction and changing course when we need to. United Way, through its own initiatives and the agencies it funds, is well equipped to ensure we all keep moving in the right direction.
How have you seen United Way transform Racine County in your time as a partner?
United Way continues to break down barriers for residents of Racine County by creating paths to those essential building blocks—health, education and financial stability—through its own initiatives and by funding programs that help accomplish our goals. There are many in our community who have not experienced hunger thanks to the support that our agency receives from United Way of Racine County.