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Poor winter travel limits resources for area food pantries

MADISON (WKOW) — Through the last few weeks, winter has packed a punch. Between several rounds of snowstorms, historic cold and now freezing rain, a number of city services have had to close their doors, including several food pantries.

According to Kris Tazelaar, communications manager for Second Harvest Food Bank, it’s taken a toll.

“In the recent weeks, we had four days that were really weather-related that kind of prevented us from being able to deliver food to those that we serve,” he said.

On a typical Wednesday, Tazelaar said volunteers would be prepping for another mobile food pantry, but again, Thursday’s pantry in Palmyra has been cancelled due to icy conditions.

“We don’t want to, you know, run any risk of people getting injured at one of our mobile pantries so it’s a safety issue for all three levels, our staff, our volunteers and the clients that we serve,” he said.

Still he said the decision doesn’t come easy.

“Every day we are delivering about 60,000 pounds of food out to the community that we serve and so we know that every day that we’re not able to deliver, that’s 60,000 pounds that are not going to those families that rely on it,” Tazelaar said.

In these winter months, John Patt said things are particularly difficult for those who rely on shelters.

“It gets your anxiety up because you’re kind of in flux not really knowing,” he said. “It’s cold, sleet, snow, rain, freezing rain. You never know.”

Homeless for seven years, Patt said shelters like Porchlight have been a constant source of support and safety during these winter months. The shelter remains open regardless of the weather and manager Preston Patterson said these months are its busiest.

“We’ve been averaging about 135 to 140 guests, last week we saw our peak of 170 guests,” he said.

Despite all those guests, Patt said he’s never had to go hungry. Whether it’s through the food pantries or he has to reach out to groups like Friends of the State Street Family, he said someone is always able to provide.

“People from the outside come in with food or there is food available here,” he said. “It can be a little limited but it’s something.”

Michelle Alfini

Reporter, WKOW

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