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Sharing the Bounty of a Good Harvest

A bountiful harvest at the Michael Fields Agricultural Institute near East Troy, Wis., allowed it to donate fresh produce to a nearby food pantry and homeless shelter, and they encourage others to follow suit. Credit: UW Extension
A bountiful harvest at the Michael Fields Agricultural Institute near East Troy, Wis., allowed it to donate fresh produce to a nearby food pantry and homeless shelter, and they encourage others to follow suit. Credit: UW Extension
October 14, 2015

MUKWONAGO, Wis. - The fall harvest this year at the Michael Fields Agricultural Institute has been so bountiful that they're donating fresh produce to nearby nonprofit organizations, including the Twin Oaks Homeless Shelter in Darien and the Mukwonago Food Pantry.

Cindy Eggleston, who manages the food pantry, said the fresh produce has made a huge difference in the lives of the people who rely on the pantry for food assistance. She's able to teach some of the principles of healthy eating to the recipients and their families.

"I'm so excited because I've been doing this 26 years," she said, "and, yes, the food feeds the person, but really, when you give people knowledge, it not only is healthy but it engages your children in healthy eating and it teaches really good stuff!"

Both Eggleston and the Fields Agricultural Institute encourage anyone who is having an abundant fall harvest to share what they can with their local food pantry or similar nonprofit agency. Eggleston said her clients are extremely grateful for the fresh and healthy donations, because they are seldom able to provide fresh produce.

Eggleston said she and her staff take time to teach the recipients of the fresh produce not only how to best prepare and serve the food, but how to preserve it, to help extend the value of the produce in meal planning for their family.

"It's not only that they're getting nutritious food," she said, "but they're getting more information on how to eat and get more nutrition in their diet, and how to take this fresh produce and stretch it into months."

According to Eggleston, hunger knows no seasons, and food shortages can hit low-income people at any time of the year. Michael Fields Agricultural Institute officials say they are pleased that their healthy, organic produce is being used as intended, to feed people. Rather than let it go to waste, the Michael Fields Ag Institute encourages all those with good harvests - farmers and gardeners - to donate in their community.

"We have this constant in-and-out tide and you want to best serve the public and the people you serve," Eggleston said, "so I can't stress enough that you should call and see specifically what that nonprofit needs at that time."

Eggleston said cash gifts always are needed and welcome.

Tim Morrissey, Public News Service - WI