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Ending hunger locally?

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"This is a day the Board has been looking forward to for a long time," said United Way St. Croix Valley Board President Jim Dahl.

A crowd of people came to see the grand opening of the United Way's new 3,700-square-foot Food Resource Center Feb. 1, at 612 Badlands Road, in Hudson.

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Dahl said supporters set a lofty goal of "ending hunger in western Wisconsin" and had come substantially closer to meeting it by opening the center.

The center will distribute food to about a dozen food pantries in Pierce and St. Croix counties plus shelters and community meal programs.

Dahl said one reason volunteers set high goals was the discovery that surplus exists in the food-supply chain. It exists in such large quantities though, to get it, an entity needs a warehouse-type setting.

He said for United Way to capture the surplus supply, the organization needed a place where big trucks could back up to a warehouse door and unload pallets, a place where it could store large quantities of food until it got distributed.

Dahl told the story of a sick child about to get a ride home from school. The youngster asked to first eat his school breakfast since his family had no food at home.

"We're going to make sure that around here at least, people don't go hungry," he said.

UWSCV Executive Director John Coughlin said Second Harvest Heartland and SuperValu, Inc. donated the food filling the center on Friday, which he expected to be all gone within three days.

United Way leases the land from Trinity Lutheran Church for $1 per year. Its Family Center sits next door. Trinity Lutheran leases half the food center's building space for the same price to store furniture and other items it offers through a ministry called We Do Feet.

The church struggled for years to find a place to keep beds, furniture and appliances for people who need them.

Coughlin said come spring, United Way hopes to have a master gardener donate services to landscape the new Food Resource Center.

For more information, call the United Way of St. Croix Valley, (715) 377-0203 or visit it online at www.unitedwaystcroix.org.

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