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Hunger in the Northwoods: Who is Using Food Pantries? Submitted: 02/18/2013
Story By Kailey Burton

Hunger in the Northwoods: Who is Using Food Pantries?
ANTIGO - This month we're looking at hunger in the Northwoods. We've brought you the stories of dedicated volunteers and programs that bring thousands of pounds of food to families in need. This week we're focusing on WHO benefits from hunger relief in the Northwoods.

It's not easy to find someone willing to talk about their struggle with hunger. Thankfully Helen Adair of Antigo shares her time helping the food pantry, and she was willing share her story as well.

Helen knows too well what it's like to go hungry. As a child in Scotland during the Second World War rations were slim and hunger was inescapable.

"You get knots in your stomach," Helen said, "And my mother used to say, 'Drink some water. Drink some water' so there was something in our stomachs."

In 2013, in the United States, we don't live in war-time. Still, hunger is here too.

"It shouldn't be. This is America. Everyone should have plenty to eat," says Helen, "You know? It shouldn't be- but it's here."

Today Helen's need for food is much less severe. Even so, for her and many families in the Northwoods, a limited income forces tough choices.

"The money is gone and you need products. You need toilet paper, laundry soap..."

As Helen puts is, 'We all need to eat', and everything else has to wait. Hygiene and medication fall to the side, but a food pantry puts those back on the shelf. It gives families a little breathing room. Donna Rus knows just how much that means.

"They will give us a hug, 'thank you so much, oh my child will really like this... We haven't had oranges or apples for a really long time'," said Donna, the President of the Steering Committee that runs the Antigo Area Food pantry, quoting some of their patrons. "Some of the small children will take an apple, and before we can even wash it, they'll bite into it. So they are delighted."

How in the world do people struggle for food in the wealthiest nation in the world? Divorce, lay-offs, hours being cut, elderly grandparents caring for children- these are the realities that Donna see bringing people in to their food pantry- Things that could happen to anyone.

"Just last week we had a member of a family register with us and said I'm so embarrassed, I never thought it would come to this'."

For that family and nearly 400 more, the Antigo Area Food Pantry is there to take some of the bite out of hunger.

The Antigo Area food pantry has only been open since May. They formed when local church food pantries combined to better serve the community.

They never turn anyone away.


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 IN OTHER NEWS
What We're Working OnSubmitted: 08/18/2017

- Tonight on Newswatch 12:


We take our Long Summer Weekend to Vilas County where we show you a garden in Land O'Lakes overflowing with produce - and a strong sense of community.

We talk to participants and organizers of the National Championship Musky Open in Eagle River.

And Friday Night Blitz kicks off another season tonight at the end of Newswatch 12 at 10 with football scores from high school games all across North Central Wisconsin as well as highlights from the following games:

Superior at Merrill

Berlin at Antigo

Hayward at Lakeland

Abbotsford at Crandon


That will be tonight on Friday Night Blitz at the end of Newswatch 12 at 10.

We'll bring you all this and more tonight on Newswatch 12 - news from where you live.

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RHINELANDER - Paul Osterman can't rest for too long on a congratulations from Governor Scott Walker.

"It's a busy time, absolutely," Osterman said.  "Now the real work begins."

The Northwoods Connect CEO joined Walker at the Rhinelander-Oneida County Airport on Friday morning to celebrate about $110,000 for his broadband towers in Oneida and Florence Counties.

"We're growing pretty rapidly, which is exciting and hard at times too," Osterman said.

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MANITOWISH WATERS - Northwoods tourism thrives off of fishing, hunting, and lake life.

Sometimes, people want to take a piece of that Northwoods culture home with them.

You might not recognize this sign in its beginning stages.

Mike Patek makes these handmade signs under the name "Vintage Cabin Signs" in Manitowish Waters. He controls everything from the cut to the paint.

His signs go all over the country. They're based off of Northwoods vacation images from the 30s and 40s; think old fishing magazines, travel posters, and postcards.

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VILAS COUNTY - Vilas County prides itself on its miles of trails. Whether it's cross country skiing, walking or biking, there are plenty of options. But one of the longest is the Heart of Vilas County bike system.

"We have 47 miles of paved bike trails. I don't think that any place in the state can match that, it's awesome," said Mary Vangrinsven.

Those nearly 50 miles make up the Heart of Vilas County Bike Trail.

"It's like being on vacation every day of my life," said Vangrinsven.

When the trail started nearly 20 years ago, bikers, walkers and runners were very excited.
"I was pretty amazed by how much use it was getting. I wondered if this was just a fad or whether it was something real," said Vangrinsven.

But it was real. The finished trail goes through four different communities.

"It's been a great addition to what you can do in Vilas County," said Ken Wiesner.

Bikers can go from St. Germain to Manitowish Waters and hit up Sayner and Boulder Junction along the way.

"In my opinion, it's really changed the local economy for the better," said Wiesner.

Every Wednesday, a group of nearly 50 people bike along a part of the Heart of Vilas County Bike trail.

"I think we're really finding, especially in the areas up here, that we have very active adults," said Vangrinsven.

Wiesner and his wife Barb joined the group because they have a cabin in Vilas County.

"We've made a lot of new friends over the past 10 years, primarily in the biking," said Wiesner.

Whether you do it with a group of friends, or by yourself, there's also something to enjoy along the trail.

There are shops along the trail to rent bikes if you don't have one. If you would like more information on the trail, click on the link below.

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MANITOWISH WATERS - Manitowish Waters would certainly look different today without its cranberry marshes.

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MADISON - Update:  8/18/17,  5:10pm

The Wisconsin state Assembly has passed a $3 billion tax break package for Taiwan-based electronics giant Foxconn Technology Group.

The bipartisan vote Thursday now sends the bill to the Senate, where it must also pass in identical form before it goes to Republican Gov. Scott Walker.

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SAYNER - A needle and thread means more to Pat Andersen than just sewing.

"I started quilting when I was 19 so it's been a passion of mine for a long time," said Pat. 

Quilting gives her a community of ladies in the Northwoods. 

"Sayner needs something like this, it needs something for the women to do," said Pat.
 
After moving to Sayner with her husband Don last spring, the two decided to buy the building that now houses Plum Lake Quilts. Pat needed somewhere to put her long arm machine and that eventually turned into a little retail business. 

"I mean little and then it grew a little bit and it grew a little bit more," said Don Andersen.

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