Food Share is the standard food package offered to each family with each visit. Each food package contains 4-5 days worth of food per person in the family, offering as much choice as possible. Working one-on-one with a volunteer, families choose the contents of the food package consisting of non-perishable items such as canned fruit and vegetables, juice, side dishes, peanut butter, cereal, soup, pasta and tomatoes, beans, tuna, macaroni and cheese, frozen meat, hygiene items, and additional items as available. In addition to the standard food package, families have the opportunity to choose from a large variety of fresh produce, lettuce, bread, and dairy. More than 1500 families come to WAFER each month.
(Funded in part by the Great Rivers United Way)
Mobile Food Pantry
This innovative and one-of-a-kind program began serving the public in September 2017. Participants receive canned goods, fresh produce, dairy items, baked goods, frozen meat, and hygiene items similar to what is available at WAFER’s main facility in La Crosse. Clients are able to board the handicap accessible vehicle to choose their own foods. Clients may either receive a food package at the food pantry or at the mobile food pantry, not both. You can find the schedule of dates, times, and locations for stops here. For questions regarding this service or to sign up for volunteering at a site, please contact the Mobile Food Pantry Manager at firstname.lastname@example.org or 608-782-6003, x6.
(Funded in part by ALM Charities and Gundersen Health System)
Food packages are packed taking into account dietary restrictions and preferences, as much as possible, and are delivered to low-income seniors 60 and over. WAFER staff and volunteers deliver to meal sites, senior housing units, or community halls throughout La Crosse County. About 100 seniors participate in Senior Share, preferring this service to standing in line and carrying their groceries home. This program, which was implemented in 2009, seeks to reduce the barriers that some seniors struggle with just to secure such a basic need; transportation and physical limitations.
Click the link below to download the application. Return completed form to WAFER.
Feeding Today’s Youth
In 2010, the first program for school age children was implemented through grant funds at area Boys and Girls Clubs. The children who participate in the program typically arrive at the club after school, staying until closing. Children are offered a hearty after-school snack which is often times the only evening nourishment the children receive. Since the program began, club staff has reported positive changes in the children’s behavior and increased interest in their own nutrition.
In the spring of 2013, another program was added in the Bangor School District. School staff identify children who seem to have insufficient meals on the weekend and supply them with a package of food. The package contains a variety of easy to prepare complete meals, snacks, breakfast, fruits and vegetables, pudding, and shelf stable milk. The purpose of the food package is to provide children with the nourishment they need for proper development and to set them up to return to school on Monday ready to learn.
***You can find information regarding Food Fair operations during the pandemic on the COVID-19 page.
Through a coordinated effort with Channel One Foodbank in Rochester, MN, a Feeding America foodbank, the first Food Fair was held in July 2009. Pallets of food are delivered and set up in the street next to WAFER during non-winter months. During extreme weather the Food Fair is generously housed in the Mcloone warehouse behind WAFER. Clients are given a Food Fair ticket to be used the day of the event which is generally held on the 4th Saturday of the month from 10-12, unless on a holiday weekend or city wide events. You can find the dates here. Client families walk down the line and pick up the various food items. Foods vary from month to month based on availability and access by Channel One, but can include cereal, canned vegetables, crackers, frozen meat, complete meals, bread, and more. Client families receive about 50 pounds in this addition food package for the month. WAFER staff encourages families to bring bags, boxes, or wagons to carry the food items since the shopping carts on hand are not enough to accommodate the nearly 500 families who will be served during the 2 hour time frame.
In August 2010, the Food Fair was extended to the West Salem community and is held on the west side of town on Hwy 16 near the car dealerships. The Food Fair generally operates for 1 hour and serves nearly 100 residents on the eastern side of La Crosse County.
Food Fair boxes are packed by Channel One staff, oftentimes containing the same items available at our La Crosse and West Salem locations. The Food Fair packages are delivered by The Mobile Pantry during stops in Rockland, Bangor and Mindoro. For questions, contact staff at 608-782-6003, x3.
WAFER relies on a variety of food sources to adequately feed families. We are currently supported by individuals, businesses, school groups, organizations, clubs, and churches. As a TEFAP (The Emergency Food Assistance Program) outlet, WAFER receives government commodities.
“Food Rescue” allows us to utilize another source of food when local retailers heavily support us to pick up dry and fresh product from their business. A dented box or a close date on packing may make an item “unsalable” in the store, but we are able to get those food items to hungry families usually within a day. Additionally, trucking companies occasionally have product declined by a retailer for one reason or another. This could be a couple cases or a couple pallets of product, but it is perfectly fine for us. What once was sent to or bound for the landfill is now used by people who are hungry.
Restaurants, grocery stores, and food suppliers are encouraged to contact us to donate food as well as any retailer or service related business that may be holding a special event. Call us to find out how to help.
WAFER is an equal opportunity organization and does not discriminate based on race, color, national origin, religion, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, disability, age, marital status, family/parental status, public assistance participation, political beliefs, or reprisal or retaliation for prior civil rights activity.