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Vilas and Oneida County Social Services collaborate with FORK to offer new Family Food Helpline


The Northwoods has what is sometimes referred to as the “working poor.”

“These are people who work part-time, full time, sometimes numerous jobs and they don’t quite meet the guidelines, the federal poverty guidelines, to participate, to be eligible for the food shares programs,” said Kate Gardner, Director of Vilas County Social Services.

There are plenty of instances where people work, pay their bills, and don’t have enough left over to cover the costs of all their meals.

Or they typically can cover all that, then something like medical emergency or sudden job loss derails their budget.

While many food programs do have income requirements, there are some that are open to anyone.

A new Family Food Helpline will help connect people with those resources.

It’s a collaboration between Oneida and Vilas County Social Services and Feed Our Rural Kids or FORK.

“If a person becomes food insecure today. Something happens in life that changes their life today. They’re going to come home tonight and go what do I do? The process of solving the food portion, at least for a short term or maybe even long-term depending on what the circumstance is, is now a %1,000 easier. It’s one call. It’s a go-to resource. It’s anonymous. It’s toll free. It’s professional,” said Perry Pokrandt, FORK President.

Starting November 1st, people in Vilas and Oneida Counties will be able to call 1-888-479-FORK (3675) to get connected with someone at Vilas County Social Services.

That person will be able to get you immediate resources that’s closest to you as soon as possible.

“There’s a mixture of over 70 different places that a person may call for the kind of help that they need depending on where they live in the two-county area. That, by any definition, is fragmented,” said Pokrandt.

Gardner says she’s thrilled to be able to partner with FORK on this.

“FORK has been working for quite a while in this community to bring about these wonderful resources. I think Perry’s done a lot of work and has a lot of good people that are assisting with this. It’s just wonderful to see what can happen when a community comes together on a problem like this,” she said.

Again, the helpline will be active starting November 1st.

You can learn more about food programs FORK offers or support their efforts on their website.

Katie Thoresen is WXPR's News Director/Vice President.
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