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

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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APPLETON - The U.S. Marshals Service says a convicted sex offender who was wanted for violating the terms of his release has been arrested in Appleton.

The agency says 63-year-old L.C. Streeter, of Milwaukee, was previously convicted of four separate sexual assaults from 1976 to 1985. Wisconsin committed him as a sexually violent person in 1996, and he remained in treatment until his release in 2013 under intensive supervision.

The service said in a statement that he cut off his GPS and electronic monitoring bracelets and fled supervision on Monday, resulting in a warrant for his arrest. Federal marshals and Appleton police arrested him without incident in Appleton on Friday.

Kevin Carr, the U.S. marshal for eastern Wisconsin, says Streeter was "an absolute danger to the community based upon his past convictions."

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TOMAH - The Tomah Veterans Affairs Medical Center says it has adopted another plan to improve patient care.

The La Crosse Tribune reports (http://bit.ly/1QMsDMZ) that Friday's release of the "100-day plan" comes almost 11 months after media reports that veterans at the center were prescribed excessive doses of opioid pain-killers and that employees who spoke out faced retaliation from top officials.

The plan, which follows a 30-day plan announced in May, outlines steps for improving access to care, employee engagement and restoring trust.

Among other things, it calls for recruitment of psychiatric staff, employee forums and listening sessions, and opening an employee wellness center.

Several Tomah VA officials including former Director Mario Desanctis and former Chief of Staff David Houlihan have been fired since the problems emerged early this year.

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WAUSAU - This has been Wisconsin's deadliest gun-deer season in the past five years, with two shooting fatalities already recorded.

Daily Herald Media reports (http://wdhne.ws/1HvNth3 ) that the two fatalities brought to an end a three-year series of seasons that had been free of firearm deaths. Four other hunters also have been wounded.

According to the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, hunters violated some of the fundamental rules of gun safety in all the incidents.

A man was killed last Sunday in Columbia County when he was shot while passing a loaded rifle to a companion in a tree stand. Wearing mittens, she grabbed the gun near the trigger and it went off. On Monday, a hunter in Waushara County was killed by a stray bullet.

The nine-day season runs through Sunday.

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MAUSTON - Authorities are investigating the death of a person who was found unresponsive in Decorah Lake early Friday.

Kyle Lynch, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources warden for Juneau County, says he was called to the scene to assist in a boat search about 1:30 a.m. He also says the Mauston Fire Department recovered the body, which was found in the water.

The Mauston Police Department says attempts were made to rescue the individual, but the Juneau County Coroner's Office pronounced the individual dead at the scene. Police have provided few other details, and the victim's name has not been released.

Mauston is about 70 miles northwest of Madison.

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MOUNT HOREB - A southern Wisconsin school district has cancelled plans for elementary school students to read a children's book about a transgender girl after a group threatened to sue.

The Capital Times reports (http://bit.ly/1TadnaG ) that the Mount Horeb Area School District released a statement saying it won't proceed with its planned reading of "I Am Jazz."

Parents were told last week that Mount Horeb Primary Center students would read the book because one student identifies as a girl but was born with male anatomy.

A Florida-based group, the Liberty Counsel, threatened to sue, saying concerned parents had reached out and that reading the book would violate parental rights.

The Southern Poverty Law Center classifies the Liberty Counsel as a hate group that advocates for "anti-LGBT discrimination, under the guise of religious liberty."

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MOSINEE - This past week, hunters took the time to head out in the woods, sit in their tree stands, and wait for a buck to come their way.

But not everyone plays by the rules.

Every year, wildlife officers work hard to catch deer poachers.

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RHINELANDER - People deposited more than just money at a Rhinelander bank Friday morning.  A blood drive at People's State Bank allowed donors to double down on what they gave.

Nurses from the Community Blood Center took donations from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. as part of the "Give a Pint, Give a Pound" blood drive.  For every pint donated, the Blood Center will give a pound of food to the Lakeland Food Pantry.

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