Food pantries serving more people

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WAFER in La Crosse serves an average of more than 1,600 families and about 4,000 to 4,500 individuals per month.

Executive director Erin Waldhart said the food pantry has been seeing more families come in compared to the same time frame last year.

She said she thinks the cold could be a factor.

“People need to choose between food or heat, and since they can come here for their food, they use the money to pay for their heat bills,” said Waldhart.

Waldhart also said community donations which come from food drives or other organizations are down.

She said this generally happens after the first of the year.

However, when community donations are down, WAFER has to use financial donations to buy food.

“We’ve seen a slight decrease in the amount of donated funds for our overhead and general purchasing,” said Waldhart.

It’s a similar story at the Onalaska/Holmen Emergency Food Basket.

Volunteer Doug Hauser said a lot of people didn’t come in when it was cold, because they had to find transportation.

However, more people are coming in now.

He said he thinks it’s because of high heat and electric bills.

“So when your income isn’t as such that you can balance those easily it’s food or is it heat which one goes up one goes down,” said Hauser.

On average the Onalaska/Holmen Emergency Food Basket serves about 200 families and about 800 individuals a month.

Hauser said donations are down, which typically happens after food drives that are held in December and May.

“There’s still donations coming in, but not as significantly large as those two times of the year,” said Hauser.

He said the food basket is looking for other opportunities to get donations during the slow times.

WAFER is looking for donations and volunteers.

If you'd like to help, call 608-682-6003.

Its hours are Monday through Friday 10 a.m.-12:45 p.m.

The Onalaska/Holmen Emergency Food Basket is also looking for donations.

Its especially in need of baked beans, peanut butter, personal items and paper products.

If you'd like to help call 608-783-7722.

Its hours are Monday 5 p.m.-7 p.m., and Tuesday through Friday 9 a.m.-11 a.m.

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