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Author: Wisconsin Watch

The Queer family farm: LGBTQ farmers find fertile ground in Wisconsin despite social obstacles

Shannon and Eve Mingalone avow that their farmers market booth is “very gay.” They hang strings of pride flags and sell rainbow stickers to help pay for gender-affirming care, like hormone replacement therapy, for Eve. Sometimes, when parents and their teenagers pass the booth, the adults glance, then speed ahead. The kids pause for a second look. Shannon, 34, hopes it means something for them to see LGBTQ professionals out and succeeding. People often share stories. The middle-aged woman who confided that her daughter is transgender. The teen who stood in the middle of the Mingalones’ booth and said,...

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An ugly enforcement: Wisconsin’s fetal protection law allows detention of pregnant women for alcohol use

Officials investigate about 400 pregnant people a year for alleged ‘unborn child abuse’ under Act 292. Critics say that can do more harm than good. Tamara Loertscher arrived at the Mayo Clinic Health System in Eau Claire, Wisconsin on Aug. 1, 2014 despondent. The 29-year-old had suffered depression all her life, but in recent months, her mental health grew especially desperate. She struggled to eat and get out of bed, thinking of harming herself. Severe hypothyroidism fueled her anguish. Untreated, it causes debilitating depression and fatigue. Loertscher had required daily medication since radiation treatment killed her thyroid. But she...

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Retaining a Constitutional Right: Thousands of eligible Wisconsin voters face ballot barriers in jail

Within a few years of returning from two traumatic combat tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, David Carlson lost his voting rights. He spent about four years in prison on felony charges that in Wisconsin result in disenfranchisement. What Carlson did not realize is that while he sat in jail prior to his conviction, he could have cast a ballot. Only, he says, no one told him he was still eligible. While tens of thousands of Wisconsinites are legally barred from voting because of felony convictions, thousands more eligible voters in local jails face persistent barriers to casting a ballot....

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Bad Lunches: Wisconsin school districts seek to improve deteriorating quality of student meals

When Sadie Perez entered Indian Trail High School and Academy on a November morning, school work was not on her mind. Instead, the then-junior was focused on an upcoming speech to the Kenosha School Board. She planned to bring a pressing concern to their next meeting, bad lunches. Like the majority of schools in Wisconsin, the Kenosha Unified School District offered free meals to students during the 2021-22 academic year. But Perez and other students started to notice smaller portions, what appeared to be undercooked meat and fruit and vegetables covered with dark spots. “The burgers that we had,...

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Mobile Markets: Bringing fresh food directly to customers in underserved areas of Milwaukee

For Shirley Johnson, getting groceries is not easy. Johnson, a 64-year-old retiree who lives alone in Milwaukee, does not own a vehicle and has to rely on others to get food. She often calls her daughter or other family members who live in the city, hoping to catch a ride to the grocery store. But if they are tied up or busy, Johnson has to pay someone to take her shopping — except when the store comes to her. Once a month, Johnson waits for a long, colorful semi-trailer hitched to a truck to pull up at the Highland...

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Wisconsin residents still face decades-old barriers in qualifying for Federal food aid assistance

Although she has been receiving federal food assistance for around 15 years, Madison resident Elizabeth Blume has never eaten government cheese. She has heard horror stories from people who have, though. “There was just this big block of (…) something gelatinous that was orange,” Blume said. Today, federal food programs no longer rely on surplus dairy products to feed food-insecure Americans. Eligibility requirements have been loosened, there are easier payment options, and the current system provides users with more choice and dignity. While Blume, 39, has more choice than early commodity recipients, it’s still hard to maintain a balanced...

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