PLATTEVILLE, Wis. — Each week, Maggie and Steve Kleisath make trips to a produce auction near Fennimore to pick up food.
The Platteville couple comes home with a van full of tomatoes, peppers, potatoes, zucchini or other produce that the two give to Platteville Food Pantry, the local senior center and a pair of senior apartments.
“We’ve been blessed, and we feel it’s important to make sure that people can get good food and can get some fresh vegetables, especially,” Maggie said.
The Kleisaths have been purchasing produce for people who need it for around seven years now. They say their drive to volunteer their time comes from a love of sharing food with others and making them happy.
“The big reason we do it is to watch the face of a lot of these people,” Steve said. “It just brings happiness and joy to them.”
The Kleisaths make their weekly trips to the produce auction from June through October. Typically, they pay for some of the food, and auction officials donate some produce that isn’t sold. The Platteville Main Street Program received a grant to help the Kleisaths cover costs this year.
“(Maggie) does most of the bidding, and I do most of the carrying,” Steve said.
Afterward, they make their deliveries to the food pantry and to local seniors. The Kleisaths also have a large garden, so they add their own produce to the mix as well. Maggie said she figures they reach about 100 families in total.
Maggie is retired now, but she traced her interest in providing food to her former work as the food service director in the Platteville School District. She also runs the annual Alone for Christmas community meal.
“I no longer feed little kids or teenagers and elementary kids, but I still feel it’s a calling, and I really like to be able to share that,” she said.
Delores “Dee” Woolf, who is on the board for the food pantry, said the Kleisaths have contributed all kinds of produce to the food pantry and package it up for families to take home. She described them as friendly, outgoing and always willing to help with a project.
“They are very kindhearted, and they do not want to see people go without when they know there’s food out here that could be used,” Woolf said.
Maggie said seeing the gratitude of the people who receive produce from the couple makes the time and energy of the pair’s efforts worthwhile.
“It’s just the pleasure of knowing that we’re making people happy,” she said. “That’s really the major reason we do it.”