By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Friends, urging friends, to help friends – of course
From the Valley
EM AND CHASCA are blessed with an abundance of food produced on their little hillbilly homestead. For her birthday Facebook fundraiser, Em chose the Gays Mills Food Pantry to help address growing food insecurity issues in our community.

RISING SUN - Last week you heard about my ‘big birthday blowout’ excitement. Memorable for sure. 

But something I didn’t get a chance to share with you was perhaps the most exciting of all. 

If you’re familiar with Facebook you may have seen that they often prompt folks to create a fundraiser on their birthday. Usually, they even offer up suggestions. Their ideas focus on their typical likes or things that the algorithms have noticed are important. The American Humane Society is a classic example. 

So of course as my birthday approached, Mark Zuckerburg and his team of social media wizards behind the screen also promoted me to participate. 

Wanting to keep any dollars raised in my community, I set my target on the Gays Mills Food Pantry.  As donations flooded in from friends and family, I felt so wonderful to know that people care about supporting my community 

To me, the Gays Mills Food Pantry and it’s volunteers are one of the most vital things our community has to offer. 

It encompasses what it means to live in a small town. It’s about being a good neighbor and friend and protecting your community from hunger and doing so without judgement. 

At points in my life, I have utilized the pantry and never once did I feel as though I was being judged or looked down upon for my needs. Rather, it was an enjoyable social visit. Seeing people I knew, visiting in the line, and chattering with volunteers about the different offerings. 

The awareness about food insecurity is something that is very important to me. People I know and love have faced ‘real deal’ food insecurity. Watching people you care about staring at their empty cupboards wondering how they’ll feed their family is heartbreaking. Having fear and worry about whether their child or elderly loved one is going to bed hungry is something that happens every day, even here,  in a country with such great wealth. 

 Whether it be due to finance, access, transportation or the like, it is a true issue facing our community at large and the Gays Mills Food Pantry is working to combat it. 

According to Feeding America, for the most recent year they have data for (2018) the food insecurity rate for Children of Crawford County was 18.5 percent.  And according to Second Harvest, one in six children face hunger in Wisconsin. 

“People without access to enough money have to make tough choices between paying for food or basics like housing, utilities, transportation and medical care,” according to Second Harvest. 

Currently, the Gays Mills Food Pantry continues to serve people in the community safely and without hesitation, as the COVID-19 pandemic trudges on. 

The pantry relies heavily on food and monetary donations to help keep things chugging along. 

I am extremely fortunate to have so many that love me enough to donate to my fundraiser in honor of my birthday and it raised a whopping $455 that will go to the pantry. 

Additionally, if you haven’t heard, the Kickapoo Exchange Natural Food Coop (KEX) is also working hard and doing great things for the pantry as well. When shopping there (doing so safely with their curbside service) patrons can pay it forward through the coop by designating extra funds toward their ongoing purchases for the pantry. The KEX is able to buy food through their distributors and then roll it down to the pantry. It’s a really great system and I’m so joyed to see the cart loaded down with goods roll past our windows at the newspaper office. 

Many may not realize that the Crawford County Independent has been a long time drop off site for food pantry donations, both monetary and nonperishable food. If you feel the urge to make a donation during non-pantry hours, please feel free to contact us at 608-735-4413 and we can help you out.  

For those of you who may need to utilize the Gays Mills Food Pantry, it is located at 120 Sunset Ridge, Suite 122 in Gays Mills. That translates to in the Gays Mills Mercantile Center, a few doors down to the right from the main entrance. The pantry is open the first Saturday of the month from 9 a.m. to 10 a.m. and the first, second and third Wednesday of each month from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. 

The pantry volunteers ask that you wait in your car. They will bring the food out to you. 

If you need more information or have questions, you’re invited to contact the Food Pantry Director, Kent Salmon at 608-606-1269 or by e-mail at

For those of you who are able or in such a position to do so, I encourage you to think about ways you can support your community in the ever present battle against food insecurity. 

One way is to do as I did and ask for less physical gifts. Instead ask for donations to your local food bank, plan a little extra for your garden that could be donated, send a couple dozen eggs from your chickens their way, or pool some money together and purchase local meat to go to a pantry. Or you can simply throw a couple extra items in your shopping cart. 

 As individuals, small steps we make, even just one can of soup, can make a big difference if we band together and commit to protecting, and helping those around us who need it most.