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USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin’s Stock the Shelves campaign encourages readers to help fight hunger locally through Feeding America Eastern Wisconsin.

Green Bay Press-Gazette

WAUSAU – People don’t often think about food insecurity until it hits home. For many individuals and families in Marathon County the COVID-19 pandemic and its economic impact on the state and country has forced them to reach out for assistance.

Even as the unemployment rate declines in the county, food pantry use is up, said Ben Lee, community impact director at United Way of Marathon County.

“It’s been a 200% response for the entirety of the pandemic,” Lee said. “It’s nonstop.”

Through the Marathon County Hunger Coalition’s food box program — in partnership with The Neighbors’ Place and the U.S. Department of Agriculture — and meal pick-ups for school-aged children, United Way has served over 25,000 people in the community just through pandemic-response programming. 

And the