Local food pantries reap benefits of holiday train

BY CARA SPOTO - Freeman Staff

December 26, 2017

HARTLAND — Food panties in Hartland and Oconomowoc collected nearly 9,000 pounds of food and more than $10,000 in cash as part of the Canadian Pacific Railway Holiday Train program this holiday season.

The train’s stop in Hartland this year yielded 5,000 pounds of food and $2,000 in cash from community members alone for the Hartland Area Food Pantry and the St. Vincent De Paul Food Pantry at the St. Charles Parish. The pantries collected another $4,000 check from the railroad, Hartland Area Food Pantry President Joy Vilter said.

The Hartland pantry itself serves 375 people twice a month.

“This last Wednesday we had 61 families in one day,” Vilter said.

In Oconomowoc, the train’s visit resulted in about 3,900 pounds of donated food and just under $5,017

in cash from community members, said Liz Lubner, treasurer of the Oconomowoc Food Pantry.

The pantry is open three times a week, and can feed over 20 families a day on those days.

Lubner did not a have a total for the railroad’s donation on Friday, as the pantry was still expecting its check.

“It was amazing. The community was so generous, the city went way above,” Lubner said.

Since 1999, the Holiday Train has raised more than 4 million pounds of food and $13 million Canadian dollars — about $10.2 million American dollars — for food pantries across Canada and the United States, the railroad’s website states.