"Fear is a factor:" Milwaukee's violent summer impacts effort to feed those in need

MILWAUKEE -- Some say Milwaukee's violent summer is impacting the effort to feed those in need.

The crowds come to 24th and Keefe to get lunches. But these days, Andrew Hutchinson says the lines are not long.

"The neighborhood's gettin' so rough, people kinda scared to come out," said Hutchinson.

Further north near 22nd and Eggert Place, the distribution is downright dismal -- as fewer than two dozen recipients showed up on Tuesday, August 18th.

"Violence is impacting hunger, at this time," said Faithe Colas, Salvation Army Director of Community Relations.

A year ago, Colas says, there would have been 70 to 100 people in those lines to accept free food. But Colas says, for many, the risk of potentially being shot isn't worth the reward.

"The violence in the neighborhood has impacted how many children have been able to come out, and where the parents feel safe sending their children out to get meals," said Colas.

"The mobile distribution sites have seen a decrease in meals. But if you look at the overall picture, we actually have seen an increase in meals," said Sherrie Tussler, Executive Director of the Hunger Task Force.

In fact, Tussler said her organization and its various partners are projected to serve more than 800,000 meals in Milwaukee this summer.

"The increase has happened inside the public schools and at the Boys and Girls Clubs," said Tussler.

Tussler and Colas agree there are other reasons which many help explain the lower numbers of recipients at mobile sites -- including weather. But both feel fear is a factor.

"I am certain there are children that are not eating because it's too violent to leave their house," said Tussler.

If you're looking for a secure meal site, it's as simple as picking up the phone and dialing 211. You'll be guided to an appropriate area. Operators for the 211 system are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.