Wisconsin communities are known for supporting each other, and local food pantries are no exception.
Southern Wisconsin’s numerous pantries assist families and individuals during challenging times, and Keefe Kares is committed to supporting these integral non-profits. Run completely by volunteers, they provide nutritional assistance and basic needs to communities who are working to regain footing during this global pandemic.
The Lake Geneva Food Pantry is one of the largest food pantries in Walworth County. Judy Guy, president of its Board of Directors, said that their pantry has seen its usage ebb and flow over the last six months.
“We saw a large increase in usage at the beginning of the pandemic,” he says. “And then, we saw a significant drop because people were scared. Now, we are seeing a return to normal once again.”
But normal looks a little different these days. Guy explains that all pantries currently are following the no-contact distribution policy as guided by the state of Wisconsin. They are also limited in what they can receive, as items are quarantined before they can be given to participants.
The Lake Geneva Food Pantry was established by Phyllis Johnson in 1983, as the first community-wide food bank, and services the Badger High School District. Their goal has always been to empower others to build a more satisfying life. There are always volunteers on hand, creating a positive atmosphere.
The variety of nutritious foods including boxed and canned items, fresh fruit and vegetables, bread and desserts. When allowed, families are able to shop for their own food.
“Never a day goes by where we don’t know why we are here,” Guy says. “Every day someone comes in, and they share their story, and we know how important our local food pantries are.”
Another great food pantry is the Twin Lakes Area Food Pantry. As part of The Emergency Food Assistance Program, the Twin Lakes Area Food Pantry is supported by local churches and service-oriented organizations, and provides American-grown meat, vegetables, fruit and juices among other items. They’re known for helping families who fall in the range of up to 300% of the federal poverty level.
The pantry relies on volunteers and organizations for their donations of time, money and food. A local bakery provides baked items every week. Thanks to generous donations, the Twin Lakes Area Food Pantry assisted over 1,235 households in 2019, with over 105,000 pounds of food.
Another pantry, Pell Lake St. Mary’s Memorial Food Pantry, was established after St. Mary’s Church in Pell Lake closed, along with their own food pantry. Sandy Steinhoff, who started the pantry, realized that there would always be a need in the community, and she couldn’t let those who relied on the pantry down.
Her focus was on treating people with kindness and like family. Now, after her death, the pantry continues to put people first. People who use the pantry come from Pell Lake, Kenosha, Racine, Walworth County and Illinois.
Harold Johnson and Bob Drefs founded the long-serving Harold Johnson Delavan Food Pantry in 1980 to supplement family nutrition, rather than to act as a substitute for it.
Recipients qualify if their income falls below the Wisconsin government eligibility guidelines, and volunteers distribute food donations through friendly and positive interaction with program participants. Their goal is to meet and support the nutritional needs of others.
The Walworth County Food Pantry is both a food pantry and a diaper bank that serves over 500 families per month. It is one of the largest in the area, and provides support to other pantries as well. It was established in May of 2009, and its volunteers believe that everyone should have access to nutritious food and clean diapers, serving with a cheerful and non-judgmental attitude.
Keefe Real Estate agent, Carl Gustafson, volunteers much of his time helping out at theWalworth County Food Pantry across from our Elkhorn office. In the 1970s, the Elkhorn Food Pantry began to serve those in the Elkhorn Area School District. Clients receive food once a month, as long as they fall at or below 185% of the Federal poverty level. The pantry is operated by volunteers from local Elkhorn churches and the Retired Senior Volunteer Program. Both volunteers, who have now returned after a season of respite due to COVID-19 concerns, and participants, feel a sense of purpose at the pantry.
“Our seniors were so excited to come back out and help,” Jean Raidl, former Elkhorn Food Pantry president said. “As soon as it was safe, they were ready to be back.”
Currently most pantries are in need of monetary donations because they are limited in what they can and cannot receive.
“We are following the CDC guidelines, and putting any donations in quarantine for five days,” Guy explained. “Right now, our communities have been so generous and we are grateful for them and for our volunteers. But pantries across the county could really use monetary donations and volunteers at this time.”
For more information about Keefe Kares, visit keefekares.com or contact Katrina Lasch at 262-348-3215.
By: Tricia Carzoli
Local Food Pantries
Lake Geneva Food Pantry
Please see the website for Covid instruction.
715 Wisconsin St., Lake Geneva
Basement, First Congregational United Church of Christ
M,W,F: 9 a.m. – 11:30 a.m.
Serves Badger High School District
Twin Lakes Area Food Pantry
701 N. Lake Ave., Twin Lakes
T,W: 10 a.m. to noon; 2nd Tuesday of each month, 7 p.m. until 8 p.m.
Serves those who fall within 300% of the federal poverty level
Pell Lake St. Mary’s Memorial Food Pantry
N1238 Park Rd., Pell Lake
M,F: 9 a.m. – 11 a.m.; W: 3-5 p.m.
Harold Johnson Delavan Food Pantry
714 E. Walworth Ave., Delavan
Sat: 8:30-10:30 a.m.
Serves those who fall below the Wisconsin government eligibility guidelines.
Walworth County Food Pantry
205 E. Commerce Ct., Elkhorn
W: 1p.m. – 5 p.m.; Sat: 10 p.m. -2 p.m.
Elkhorn Food Pantry
104 South Broad Street, Elkhorn
M,W,F: 9 a.m. – 11 a.m.
Serves low income households in the Elkhorn Area School District. Participants must fall at or below 185 % of the Federal poverty level.