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TONIGHT: Taste of The Garden fundraiser aims to help those facing food insecurity



FILE - Kane Street Community Garden.

A night of music, drinks and garden inspired food is in store for those who attend the Hunger Task Force’s Taste of The Garden fundraiser on Wednesday.

The fundraiser takes place at the Kane Street Community Garden from 5-8 p.m. and will feature music from La Crosse’s own Tom Conrad, beer and wine samples from local breweries and vineyards, and food from area restaurants.

All proceeds from the event will go back to the Hunger Task Force of La Crosse, which is the only food bank between Madison and Rochester, and helps serves nearly 100 food pantries, youth groups and meal programs.

Shelly Fortner, the executive director of The Hunger Task Force, on WIZM’s La Crosse Talk, that there will also be a silent auction and a chance to tour the community garden.

“During the evening we can give garden tours, and our garden employees will walk people down the paths, show them what’s growing, and give a little overview about what we do there.” Fortner said.

The garden relies heavily on volunteers, with over 2,500 helping each year. To take advantage of the harvest, you do not have to be a volunteer.

“We grow everything and we distribute it right there for free,” Fortner said. “We have three harvest nights a week during the summer and people can come to the garden and get fresh produce. You don’t have to volunteer in order to get the produce, but it is an incentive to volunteer there, you get the first pick of what is coming out that day.”

The fundraiser will help those facing food insecurity — a problem expected to rise in the community once COVID-19 emergency funding ends.

“Now we are looking at some of those federal programs ending, and the burden is going to be put back on food pantries, and us as a food bank.” Fortner said. “Seniors typically will receive $20 a month in food stamps, and right now they are getting an emergency allotment … but when this program ends, they go right back down to 20 bucks. How does somebody live on that?”

Sam is a student at UW-La Crosse studying media communication and political science. She has lived in La Crosse for 5 years and loves everything about the community. When she’s not at school or work, you can find her outside hiking the state parks or watching Netflix with her two cats.

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