We are thrilled to share with you some exciting news from United Way St. Croix Valley! Since 2007, the United Way’s John Coughlin Food & Resource Center has done amazing work to fight hunger in the St. Croix Valley, from the organization’s modest beginnings to last year where it distributed 740,000 pounds of food (enough for 2.3 million meals) to those in need. The demand in our region is growing, however, and we are taking bold steps to ensure that we can rise to meet the need in Western Wisconsin.

After months of strategic planning, discussion with our regional partners, and a full review of our current capacity, the United Way St. Croix Valley Board of Directors is pleased to announce that we have created a new, independent nonprofit food re-distribution organization known as the St. Croix Valley Food Bank. This organization will continue the great work of the John Coughlin Food & Resource Center while developing the strategies and infrastructure necessary to deliver 6 million pounds of food to Western Wisconsin in 2021.

United Way St. Croix Valley remains a strong and innovative local organization, dedicated to our mission of uplifting people by building relationships, connecting resources, and uniting the St. Croix Valley communities. Our community impact programs, including 211 St. Croix Valley and Success by 6, play a crucial role in the fight for the health, education, and financial stability of every person in Western Wisconsin. 

211 St. Croix Valley, since launching in August 2019, has fielded over 6,000 calls for support, providing an essential service in the St. Croix Valley while helping to strengthen and reinvent the models for best serving the most vulnerable members of our community. To celebrate the tremendous impact of 211 St. Croix Valley, we invite you to join us on our Facebook page on national “211 Day” Thursday, February 11th, at noon for a live virtual event with 211 Community Impact Director, Jessica Neumann.

Finally, with these exciting changes for our organization comes bittersweet news. Ann Searles, United Way St. Croix Valley Executive Director, will be taking the helm at the St. Croix Valley Food Bank, serving as the organization’s first Executive Director. Ann’s fearless leadership and tireless dedication to the St. Croix Valley during her tenure at United Way will be sorely missed. We are tremendously grateful for the work she has done to champion the remarkable growth in strength and impact of United Way St. Croix Valley. Our longtime Operations Manager, Lara Otsuka, will step into the role of Interim Director while we launch the search for our next leader.

Thank you for your support of our efforts as we have evolved to serve even more families and individuals in need. Please do not hesitate to reach out to us if you have any questions. We hope you will join us on February 11th to learn more about 211 St. Croix Valley’s important work and exciting initiatives on the horizon.

Marc Ruska
President, Board of Directors
United Way St. Croix Valley