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Hunger Task Force and Salvation Army team up for Food Distribution Days

Kaitlyn Riley

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As the pandemic continues, so do efforts to feed those in need. 

The Hunger Task Force of La Crosse worked with The Salvation Army of La Crosse for more than 20 years. Now, the two organizations are coming together to help with new Food Distribution Days that will happen the first Friday of each month starting March 5.

“We have a really generous community,”  Shelly Fortner, Hunger Task Force of La Crosse executive director said. “We know the folks could be our neighbors or our friends who are struggling. This community really takes care of itself.”

More than 40% of the 46,846 households in La Crosse County come close to financial insecurity, according to the Salvation Army of La Crosse County. The Hunger Task Force expects to see nearly 200-250 families at each of the Food Distribution Days. 

“The pandemic has been with us now for about a year, and we still see people struggling,” Fortner said. “We’re seeing a lot of the pantry programs change their hours and possibly close completely. We knew we had to step up and get food to people in need.”

Fortner said the community has been generous with donations, and government programs such as the Farmers to Families Food Box Program help, but she expected many of those to end soon.

“What I think is going to happen is probably in the months of May or June, a lot of these extra food programs are going to be ending,” she said. “It is our job to keep donations coming in from the community so that we can take care of the need. In the La Crosse area, nearly 24 percent are living in poverty. With lower wages and people losing work from job loss or furlough, we need to keep this going.”

The events will be held in a contactless drive-thru style from 3 p.m.-5 p.m. the first two distribution days will be hosted at The Salvation Army Warehouse (434 Nelson Place, La Crosse). 

The Hunger Task Force of La Crosse works to eliminate hunger by harvesting community resources and being the voice of the hungry. “The Salvation Army is honored to help serve the community and partner with The Hunger Task Force of La Crosse,” Major Jeff Richardson. said. “As our world changes and we experience difficulties, we are able to adapt and overcome these challenges collaboratively to provide food to those in need in our community.”

Kaitlyn Riley’s passion for communications started on her family’s dairy farm in Gays Mills, Wis. Wanting to share agriculture’s story, she studied strategic communications and broadcast journalism at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. In college, she held officer positions with the Association of Women in Agriculture and Badger Dairy Club while volunteering as a news reporter for the college radio station. She also founded the university’s first agricultural radio talk show, AgChat. In her professional career, Kaitlyn has worked in radio, print and television news doing everything from covering local events to interviewing presidential candidates, and putting back on her barn boots to chat with farmers in the field. Today, Kaitlyn can be seen covering local stories that matter to you in the La Crosse area.