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Hunger in the Northwoods: Where Does the Food Come From?Submitted: 02/18/2013
Story By Kailey Burton

RHINELANDER - Every Monday in February Newswatch 12 is taking a deeper look at hunger in the Northwoods.

Last week we brought you the story of a volunteer who's dedicated more than a decade to feeding the hungry- This week, we're looking at where all the food comes from.

450 families rely on the Rhinelander food pantry every month. Each of them leaves with about 60 pounds of food. That wouldn't happen without the thousands of pounds they get through Feeding America.

"185,000 pounds, from the Feeding America program at Walmart," said Jane Motowski, the Food Manager at the Rhinelander Food Pantry, "That's a lot of food... So we've been able to give more!"

The Rhinelander food pantry is lucky. They can offer a lot of something many food pantries can't offer at all, fresh produce.

"Of all the pantries we probably have the most," said Motowski, "But we may also be the only one that's doing the Feeding America pick-up."

Feeding America provides dry and shelf-stable foods to hundreds of pantries across this state. Those are quality calories, but fresh produce is another story. Just about the only way to get that, is to pick it up yourself.

Thanks to a special agreement with Walmart through Feeding America, and a team of volunteers, the Rhinelander food pantry gets just about everything that Walmart would have thrown away.


"We are so close to the Super Walmart that we can pick it up by pick-up truck and get it here…They don't want it on the shelf, but it's still edible and it's usable and they give it to us so we try to move it as fast as we can," said Motowski.

With low-cost food purchased through Feeding America, and her own shopping with the community's donations, Motowski is able to keep their basement, two freezers and a walk-in cooler mostly stocked.

They also get some help from local stores. Golden Harvest donates their unsold baked goods, and the Friendship House Family restaurant gives soup by the bucket.

"We never know what we're going to get," says Motowski with a smile, "It's kind of like Christmas every day!"

Entirely through the generosity of others, families in need in Oneida county keep food on their shelves. That's something Motowski doesn't take for granted.

"Without volunteers we would not be here... I have to say, volunteering is probably one of the most rewarding jobs you could do, makes you feel good, and makes the people feel good."

In Oneida county, it helps them stay full too.

If you're ever holding an event, and have left-over supplies or food, the Rhinelander Food Pantry would greatfully take that, and any help too.

Another source of fresh produce for the Rhinelander Food Pantry is the Community Garden. The master gardeners are always looking for help to keep the garden growing. Contact the Rhinelander Food Pantry at 715-369-7237 to help out.


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 IN OTHER NEWS

MARINETTE COUNTY - A 90-year-old man died in an ATV crash in Marinette County late Saturday afternoon.

According to the Marinette County Sheriff's Office, it happened private property north of Newton Lake in the Town of Athelstane.

90-year-old James Bosanny was driving the ATV with his 64-year-old son, James Bosanny, Jr., on board. He lost control on a small hill after hitting a plow before the ATV accelerated and hit a tree. They both were thrown off the ATV. The 90-year-old died at the scene.Crews took the son first to Bay Area Medical Center in Marinette and then later taken to a hospital in Green Bay for serious injuries.

The sheriff's office says neither was wearing a helmet. Police don't think alcohol or speed played a part in the crash. 

Crews are still investigating. James Bosanny, Sr., was from Monroe, Wisconsin, and his son, James Bosanny, Jr., was from Hortonville, Wisconsin. 

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RHINELANDER - In between the rain Sunday, people got outside and on the water.

Mel's Trading Post in Rhinelander held its annual Paddle Sport Demo Day at Hodag Park.

People were able to test out kayaks, canoes, and paddle boards for free.

The owner of Mel's trading post, Mitch Mode, likes this day not only try and sell some equipment but to also get feedback from people about the different boats.

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NORTHWOODS - Memorial Day Weekend means the return of snowbirds and tourists.

Tourism is a big industry here in the Northwoods.

Many businesses have reopened for the summer, but the people coming to the Northwoods aren't just from the surrounding states.

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CONOVER - The rain fortunately stayed away in Conover for a part of Sunday afternoon just in time for the grand opening of the Conover-Phelps bike trail.

The project has been years in the making, and now it's ready to ride. A couple hundred people and local leaders came out in support of it.

"There's a real feel for people being enthusiastic about this," said Jeff Currie, the President of Great Headwaters Trails, which helped lead the bike trail project.

It's supposed to connect Conover to Phelps through nearly 11 miles of paved trail. The first part is open and goes from Conover Community Park to Muskrat Creek Road.

"3.2 miles on the ground and ready to be ridden on biked or hiked," said Brian Blank, the chairman of the Conover-Phelps Trail Capital Campaign.

"When people hear about a town and then when people say, have you seen their bike trail, it's just, right away it's like there's more to that town than I thought there was," Currie said.

While not yet complete, project leaders are hopeful the trail will be finished soon. Project leaders say the second part of the trail, about five miles long, is fully engineered but about 60 percent funded.

"We're about $200,000 away from completing the remaining five miles," Blank said.

"You know that funding could come, and when it does, five miles of trail in two or three months will be on the ground," Currie said.

"I have no doubt in the next couple years this trail will be completed all the way to Phelps," said Gary Meister, the vice president of Great Headwaters Trails.

The trail is non-motorized so, no ATVs allowed, but it will be a snowmobile trail in the winter.

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RHINELANDER - You can only learn so much reading from a book or sitting behind a desk.

So Friday, Crescent Elementary School kindergartners got out of their classrooms and into Rhinelander. The students learned about their community they see every day, but might not fully understand.

"The goal today was to get the kindergartners out throughout Rhinelander to see the businesses and what type career opportunities," said kindergarten teacher Julie Gerth.

With the help of Partners in Education and a Hodag School Foundation grant, the students visited Grace Lodge assisted living, Covantage Credit Union, Trig's and the courthouse.

The kids also got to see a firetruck, police car, and a public works vehicle at Pioneer Park. The field trip was designed to show off what the community can offer them now, and in their futures.

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MERRILL - Steven Jopek carries a number of memories with him on Memorial Day.

"This will be our 9th Memorial Day where he hasn't been here," said Steven.

This weekend marked the 10th anniversary of the last time he saw his brother, Ryan, in person.

"He would be 30 on June on 1st," said Ryan's sister Jessica Holmgren.

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MARATHON COUNTY - Firefighters call a Town of Berlin house a total loss after a fire destroyed it early Sunday morning.

According to the Marathon County Sheriff's Office Facebook page, crews got a call around 1:40 a.m. to the 11,000 block of Naugart Drive. When they got there, the house was totally up in flames.Several surrounding fire departments were called in to help.

No one was hurt. The house is valued at more than $100,000. 

Investigators don't think the cause of the fire was anything suspicious, but they are still investigating. 

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