With the world on pause, charities are both running out of supplies and / or unable to hold traditional events to help replenish the stocks.
The same thing is happening in La Crosse. But the county health department is teaming up with Hunger Task Force of La Crosse and multiple other groups to help fill the food pantries in the area.
With food pantries are running out, as those in need are impacted the hardest amid this coronavirus pandemic, a seven-week push to replenish the stocks will begin April 17 called Food Drive Fridays.
“We’ve got a lot of people in the community that have had to decrease hours or have a furlough or been laid off,” Lindsey Schwarz-Nichols, a La Crosse County social worker said. “Some of these are people that typically live paycheck to paycheck. And so, with less and less going into their pockets, people are having to make really hard choices.”
The Hunger Task Force is the only free, local food bank. It provides to 91 food pantries, meal sites and youth programs to just La Crosse County.
The drive runs from 11 a.m. – 1 p.m. every Friday April 17 through May 29, as these groups are looking to restock the shelves with the help of anyone able throughout the community.
“Sometimes people donate every week at a regular dropoff location — maybe a dropoff collection box at your local church or something like that,” Schwarz-Nichols said. “Well, there are a lot of places that are closed. So, the food that would be normally coming in, isn’t coming in from those locations, either.”
There will be three drive-thru locations, with volunteers — who will be wearing masks for everyone’s protection — that will take your non-perishable donations.
o Onalaska area: Valley View Mall parking lot (by former Macy’s location): 3800 Hwy 16,
La Crosse, WI (MAP)
o Downtown La Crosse: La Crosse County parking lot behind the Courthouse & Law
Enforcement Center: 333 Vine St, La Crosse, WI (MAP)
o Southside La Crosse: Big Lots parking lot: 3960 Mormon Coulee Rd, La Crosse, WI (MAP)
Along with the county and the Hunger Task Force, the local rotary clubs, iFeed and Rotary Lights are all pitching in.
Another reason for this push is because, as local groups may be shut down, unable to take donations, yearly food drives events have been postponed, as well, to help continue social distancing to help lessen the impact of the virus outbreak.
“When you postpone a large food drive, what’s the backup?” Schwarz-Nichols asked. “We don’t have a backup. So, we’re trying to kind of pinch-hit here and see what we can get from the community through other avenues of collecting.”
Below are examples of items sought for the food drive, but people can also, if possible, donate through the Hunger Task Force website here.
Canned items needed include meats (tuna, chicken), peanut butter, soup, fruit; boxed side dishes (stuffing, rices, potatoes); breakfast items (cereal, oatmeal, etc); canned ravioli, Spaghetti O’s, pasta and pasta sauce.