Date of Award

December 2019

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science


Urban Studies

First Advisor

Amanda I Seligman

Committee Members

Doug Ihrke, Jennifer Jordan


food insecurity, grassroots, hunger, non profit, volunteers


The issue of food insecurity is a growing problem. Multiple studies and organizations have examined and attempted to solve the issue of hunger. The Hunger Task Force was founded in Milwaukee in 1974 and influenced by grassroots organizing of concerned Milwaukee residents’ efforts to help alleviate hunger in Milwaukee. I examine the historical context of the city of Milwaukee that led to the inception of the Hunger Task Force of Milwaukee. This thesis delves deeper into the origins of the Hunger Task Force and how those origins related to its operations in the 1980s and early 1990s.

I utilize archival data from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee (UWM) and published secondary literature to define and analyze what I am calling the elite and nonelite volunteer programs at the Hunger Task Force. Elites were mostly white career professionals, and nonelites were low-income women of color. This shows the effects of an organization deploying its volunteers differently and departing from its origins of operating. It also explores the importance of community voice in advocacy work and governance. This thesis argues that elite and nonelite Hunger Task Force of Milwaukee volunteers received unequal levels of supervision due to the different level of trust by the Board of Directors.