Madison College’s continued efforts to help students with food security has led to the program Wolfie’s Wellness Bags. The program is designed to help students not only get meals everyday but to also learn how to eat healthy.
The program goes through the Madison College financial aid offices to ensure the standards of the Wisconsin Technical System. In order to apply for the wellness bag program students have to apply for financial challenges, which can be found at https://madisoncollege.edu/financial-challenges. From there, students can be approved for the program.
The program will give students a red reusable grocery bag, along with a gift card to Woodman’s. The approved amount varies with the gift card but in general, the amount is $500. The amount is aimed at helping students get through the semester.
When students are approved, they sit down to talk with Denise Holin, Student Program Advisor in Fitness Center Health education. They talk about the wellness bag and the gift card, and she helps students through the overall process.
Holin then goes through the wellness bag with them. Inside the bag are a few quick meals with recipes, like cheesy chicken and rice that students can easily make themselves, along with containers for leftovers.
Rice, beans, a few quick types of proteins can be found inside, along with a cook book called, “Good and Cheap.” The cook book is designed to create meals that will cost as little as possible but are healthy and easy to make.
The aim is not only to get students the help they need with food security but also how to sustain a healthier lifestyle.
“The foundation of the program is nutrition education, trying to provide resources and education,” said Holin.
There is also a food resource guide that highlights River Food Pantry and other locations to get food security help. Throughout the entire process students are encouraged to ask questions.
Students also watch a video with Holin that was made by two Madison College students who are in recreation management program. The video shows how to use the Woodman’s app and the mobile devices available at the front of the store.
A tour through Woodman’s is given in the video with tips on what to buy, making sure all the options are healthy, along with where to find them.
For some students it could be the first time navigating a grocery store by themselves, and the video is designed to help them avoid the easy and unhealthy options.
“Students would go to their comfort food if they were in crisis, and a comfort to them might have been soda or chips,” said Holin who drove home the idea of eating healthy.
Something like getting whole wheat bread versus white could be something that may seem like common knowledge, but the program doesn’t want to skip over anything.
After going through the bag and the process they take a survey and give feedback on how the college could help them better, because the overall effort is to provide help to students in the most useful way. The program is still in the early stages and will evolve over time. Right now, the meals and recipes that are provided are based on an American diet. As the program evolves, they hope to have more diverse meal options.
Right now, the program is targeted for one individual student at a time, but the students so far that have needed the program are single parents and aren’t able to feed their kids on their own. The hope is that the program will grow into a different capacity that will allow to provide better help for single parents.
Holin is the one who meets with the students and helps them through the process of how to use the money they are given and goes through the bag with them. But hopefully other students who want to help coach as a part of the program or as a part of the health and wellness program are available to guide students through the process as well.
Wolfie’s Wellness Bags are available during the semester for any student that is eligible.