Fighting hunger in 18 counties


There’s a lot of talk about hunger and food deserts, especially in the summer months when children are out of school. Two men in Northern Wisconsin, bonded by community and family ties, found a unique and sustainable way to work towards solving food insecurities not only in their neighborhood, but in 18 counties across Wisconsin.

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“For most of my life I have worked with people of varying abilities, helping them to establish vocations and opportunities to work. A few years ago, I had this idea that some of the young people I worked with would really enjoy farm work.

I heard about a program going on here in the Driftless in the summer. A nonprofit was taking volunteers to farms to glean leftover produce in the fields after the primary harvest. They’d give that secondary harvest to local food pantries. I thought that was really a cool idea, so I reached out to them and we co-wrote a grant for people with varying abilities to be a paid staff for that program.

Our crew loved it, and I loved it. I had been living in Viroqua for 15 years, working in the town, but I never really got out to the country. I had never picked vegetables on a farm, or really experienced the beauty of the farmland in our area. So it was a special experience for all of us.

I found out at the end of the summer that the nonprofit that ran the farm program didn’t have the ability to run it anymore. They wanted someone else to take it over. I started to think about getting more involved but I knew I was going to need some help.”

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