Dec 05

Trotting to an Active Community this Thanksgiving

This Thanksgiving, community members trotted toward a healthier holiday by participating in the annual Stevens Point Community Turkey Trot. Organized by the Portage County Can Coalition (PC CAN), over 450 attendees walked or ran the 5K and donated food items on Thanksgiving morning at Pfiffner Park. Participants were encouraged to bring friends, families, pets and gratitude as they walked or ran the non-competitive trot.

One participant during the event wore a sign on her back reading “thankful” and other community members wrote down what they were thankful for on the sign. Participants did not have to pay a fee, but those who registered early had the opportunity to purchase a race t-shirt. A donation of canned food was encouraged to be brought in the place of a registration fee.

In total, over 1300 pounds of food were donated from the event. 60 dollars in monetary donations was also collected in addition to the canned items. This year, all donations were sent to the InterFaith food pantry, which is located in Plover.The total amount of donated food was the third largest donation InterFaith had received this year. This is an improvement from the last Turkey Trot, which saw 360 pounds of food collected for donation.

Kelly Hammond, graduate assistant with PC CAN, said, “Everyone was just happy to participate in a community walk/run and raise awareness for hunger and food insecurity in our county.”

Participants were in light spirits throughout the event. A member of PC CAN even dressed up as a life-size turkey for support.While the event was not competitive and all skill levels were welcome, the first person to finish completed the 5K in 17 minutes. The average group took 25 to 45 minutes to complete the trot.

One participant included Terry Aittama, who walked the 5K with her family. Aittama said it was refreshing to spend the holiday morning keeping active with the community.

“I slogged along with my nephew, who is not a big fan of physical activity, but I’m working on him, and he had fun!” said Aittama.

PC CAN is a non-profit organization that builds networks and resources to foster active living and healthy eating behaviors in Portage County. To become involved in PC CAN the community is welcome to their winter meeting on January 26 at the Ideas Center in Stevens Point. For more information about meeting and event updates, find PC CAN on Facebook or their website,

Nov 06

What Food Items Should You Donate at the Turkey Trot?

When donating food at events such as the Turkey Trot, it is always important to donate healthy food items. Giving away leftover pie filling in the back of your pantry is not good for you or for the recipient. Healthy, thoughtful food items create a healthy meal for someone in need. Jill Hicks, UW-Extension regional associate and North Central Region UW-Extension nutrition education administrator, has tips to remember when buying food to donate.

•       Canned fruits should be canned in 100% juice, not in heavy syrup. These items can be applesauce, pears, peaches, apples, cranberries, or grapes. Dried fruit may be donated as well, as long as it has no added sugar.
•       When buying vegetables, canned dark greens such as collard greens or spinach are healthy. Starchy vegetables like corn or lima beans are beneficial as well. Asparagus, beets, tomato juice, and wax beans are also healthy options.
•       When donating whole grain foods, the first ingredient should be listed as whole grain.
•       If perishable products may be donated, skim milk, yogurt with low sugar, or fresh and frozen fruits and vegetables are good choices.
•       Dry or canned beans and peas are healthy options, as is canned chicken, clams, and sardines. Nuts and seeds like almonds, peanut butter, pumpkins seeds, and cashews are healthy and easy to find.
•       Extra items to donate include: spaghetti sauce, bouillon cubes, ketchup, coffee, maple syrup without sugar, pickles, salsa, salad dressing with little and no fat, and tea.
•       Foods that are generally not accepted are items that are dented or budged, expired, opened, canned from home, or containing infant formula.
•       In some instances, monetary cash donations are accepted instead of items and are used to buy specific foods that individuals and families need.

Specific to the Wood County Area, the top 10 foods to donate are:
1.      Canned tuna or chicken
2.      Low sodium vegetables
3.      Fruit in water or 100% juice
4.      Whole grain cereal
5.      Whole grain pasta
6.      Dried or canned beans
7.      Peanut butter
8.      Spaghetti sauce
9.      Low sodium creamed soup
10.    Baking mixes and pancake mix

When donating items at the Turkey Trot or any event, it is important to donate food that is healthy so families can get the vitamins and nutrients they need. Taking the extra time to buy healthy and nutritious food items instead of digging in the back of your cupboard will make you and the families who need the food feel better this Thanksgiving holiday.

Oct 19

How to Train for the Turkey Trot 5K

This Thanksgiving, the Portage County Can Coalition will be hosting a 5K Turkey Trot to anyone and everyone who would like to walk, run, spring or skip for a great cause. If you have never ran or walked five kilometers, the Stevens Point Area Turkey Trot is a great place to start!

Professor Tom Wetter, University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point professor and director of the Health and Human Performance Lab, shares tips and tricks he recommends when preparing to take part in a 5K, or a walk or run of any length.

Before doing any running, Wetter outlines three tips to help you prepare mentally:

1)     Identify your goal

2)     Create a plan

3)     Find a support network

Wetter said that it is important to “identify your goal and especially why that goal is important to you.” Once you set your goal, then the distance becomes something attainable— instead of just a thought in your head. It makes the event more personal and pushes you to take your training more seriously. Once you set that goal, it’s time to create a plan to move from goal to action.  Deciding when you are going to work out and how you will overcome situations such as cold weather or rain will help keep you motivated no matter what the circumstance. In addition, “Many people find that having a partner to train with is very useful for social support,” Wetter said.

Once you’re ready to begin training, keep these three tips in mind:

1)     Stay consistent with training

2)     Gradually increase your distance

3)     Take your time and enjoy the run

 With the right training, it is possible to run or walk a 5K by Thanksgiving. The first tip is staying consistent in your training; is important to keep your body in the habit of exercising and gaining endurance.  This way, your body will not be shocked when you exert more physical strength than normal. Over time, it is smart to gradually increase your distance or your speed towards your goal. Slow, steady improvements are the best way to ensure that you do not hurt yourself while training. Finally, remember to enjoy your exercise by bringing a friend along, listening to music or just enjoying nature. The Turkey Trot is not a timed run, so you don’t need to worry about setting a new record! By following these tips and tricks, you should be ready to tackle the Turkey Trot by Thanksgiving!

For a more detailed training plan, Wetter recommends using the Hal Higdon training plan, available online:

Oct 11

Wheely Good News for Stevens Point Bicyclists

Stevens Point is on a roll after being offered a grant from the Transportation Alternatives Program to implement bicycle lanes throughout the city, promoting a safer and more efficient way to bike.

Accepted on Aug. 29, the grant will allow for 13.16 miles of bike lanes to be installed along popular collector and arterial streets. This will not only benefit students at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point who find biking more affordable, but it will benefit anyone who prefers biking over driving.

Connecting the campus to major business and shopping districts will give the university a further sense of community and a sense of safety when biking to these popular destinations.

As bikes need to follow the same rules as a motor vehicle while on the road, this grant will allow bikers to feel more comfortable while traveling among cars.

Tyler Schiesser, senior urban forestry major, said, “I think it’s a safer and more convenient alternative for both bikers and drivers.”

The Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee logged information to determine which streets would be most effectively utilized.

Mike Wiza, mayor of Stevens Point, said, “They prioritized the routes – safe routes – throughout the core of the city, allowing people who choose to use bicycles to be able to get to places throughout the city safely.”

The grant was co-authored by Tori Jennings, professors of Sociology and Social Work, and Trevor Roark, vice chair of the Stevens Point Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee. Along with editors and map makers, to turn this plan into action involved many thoughtful hours and the dedication of many Stevens Point citizens.

Jennings said, “We literally spent hundreds of hours researching and writing this grant, a process that began the beginning of December 2015 when we were told about the grant by Mayor Wiza, until the end of January 2016.”

The approval of this grant is not to be overlooked. Only 33 projects were approved for funding for the cycle of 2016-2020 for the entire state. With only $15 million to grant to Wisconsin, the funding for a project of this scale seats Stevens Point highly on a two-wheeled pedestal.

“The project will increase transportation options for UWSP students by creating a convenient bicycle commuter network that links the campus to major business and shopping districts,” Jennings said.

Initiated by the Transportation Alternatives Program, also known as TAP, the grant will create not only bicycle lanes but also urban shoulders and shared lane markings.

TAP will cover 80 percent of the costs necessary to fund the project and the city will provide the last 20 percent of the $487,676. If the remaining funding is approved by the Common Council, the additions will be seen in 2019.

Wiza said, “The drivers will hopefully be more aware of it, the bikers will hopefully be aware of it, and we’ll all get along much better.”


Alexa Dickson

News Reporter

The Pointer

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