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Food Pantries Experience Heavy Demand Over Holidays

Many Need Donations In Order To Help People Serve Holiday Meals


Although the need for food is year round, food pantries experience heavy demand from those they serve as people think about their holiday meals.

It was a constant stream of people in and out the door of WAFER food pantry in La Crosse, an organization that serves 1,800 families each month, last November. Canned vegetables, pasta, and instant mashed potatoes flew off the shelves as people talked about planning their Thanksgiving meal.

Heidi, a resident of the nearby village of Holmen who did not want to give her last name, stocked up on frozen chicken and canned fruit for her family. Heidi has celiac disease, which has landed her in the hospital countless times. She can’t eat foods with gluten in them, so a volunteer showed her to a special gluten-free section in the back, with granola and soups.

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Heidi is one of the 4,000-plus people who uses the food pantry. She said she doesn’t make enough money to feed her family and finance her dietary needs.

“Coming here is a blessing,” she said. “When people donate the food, especially for me when I can’t eat it, coming here gets me through the end of the month.”

Plus, she found gluten-free cookies so she could make a pie crust on Thanksgiving.

Executive Director Erin Waldhart said that when it comes to donations, the rule of thumb is to give food that you yourself would want to eat.

“We could use pretty much anything,” said Waldhart. But if I had to pick a few items that we would most in need of it would be mac and cheese, soup (the kind you like to eat), cereal, canned fruit, and canned meat.”

Waldhart said that money is always appreciated, since food pantries, like WAFER, can buy in bulk at lower prices than the average person.