An organization that helps those in need is in need of help itself.
The Weymont Food Pantry’s board of directors met last week to discuss the pantry’s financial situation and decided to stop purchasing dish and bar soap and to cut its annual Thanksgiving Basket Program.
“The cuts have been tremendous,” said Carrie Kolz, who is the board’s secretary.
When the board met last week, it learned that through September of this year, the food pantry’s income totaled $9,592.33, while expenses totaled $20,133.67 for a net loss of $10,541.34.
Cash donations are down this year.
In addition, the U.S. Government Commodities Food Program has drastically cut its distribution to area food pantries, Kolz said.
Weymont Food Pantry had been receiving between 120 and 200 cases of food each month. Now, it receives about 20 cases of food per month, she said.
The government commodities often include such items as cheese, hamburger and chicken, Kolz said.
“Every month someone is doing something, but a lot of times, we don’t get some of the things we need, and then we have to buy them,” she said. “The money is just not coming. It used to be businesses and banks giving money, but with the economy, the cash donations are not coming in like they had.”
Weymont Food Pantry serves families in the Weyauwega-Fremont School District. Last year, the pantry served an average of 165 families – about 960 people – each month. Families must meet income guidelines and show proof of residency in the W-F School District. They can visit the pantry once a month.
Kolz said they expect that number to be higher this year. “We’re seeing more families every month,” she said.
The amount of food a family receives depends on its size. “They go through and pick out the things that their family is actually going to eat,” she said.
Families receive milk vouchers for half a gallon of milk for a family of one and a gallon of milk for all other families. They also receive vouchers for meat and a dozen eggs. The vouchers must be taken to KD’s IGA in Weyauwega.
KD’s IGA and Festival Foods give the pantry bakery items, and the pantry also receives produce from local farmers and the community garden.
Kolz said that while families can visit the food pantry once a month, they may stop there on a weekly basis to pick up bakery and produce.
The pantry opened on Jan. 18, 1993, in the school district’s old middle school, on Main Street in Weyauwega.
It was organized in the fall of 1992 by four area churches – Ss. Peter & Paul Catholic Church in Weyauwega, St. John’s Lutheran Church in Baldwins Mill, Hope United Church of Christ in Fremont and First Presbyterian Church in Weyauwega.
Other churches – Christ Lutheran Church in West Bloomfield, St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in Fremont and St. Peter’s Lutheran Church in Weyauwega – have since joined.
“Our board is made up of three of four representatives from each church,” said Kolz, who has served on the board for eight years.
There are approximately 75 people who volunteer at the pantry, which is open on Mondays, from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. and also from 5:30 to 7 p.m., with the exception of holidays.
Kolz said that beginning in 2012, when a holiday falls on a Monday, the pantry will then be open the next day.
The volunteers who run the food pantry have never seen a financial situation such as they face today, and it comes at a time when more area residents are needing help.
In 2003, the pantry began receiving government commodities.
“They have really helped, especially with the meat. It was usually hamburger, chicken. Now, like everything, the government is getting hit hard, too,” Kolz said.
Each of the churches involved in the pantry collects non-perishable food donations on a particular month of the year.The food pantry also receives donations from the Boy Scouts in October, and the Girl Scouts usually do a hygiene items drive.
Kolz said donations from the churches have been stable, but when needed staples are not among the donations, they have to buy them.
Cutting the Thanksgiving Basket Program will impact about 100 families, Kolz said.
Kolz said they encourage families affected by this program cut to look for Thanksgiving dinners served by area churches.
The food pantry is also informing its recipients about Ruby’s Pantry, another program that distributes food.
Weymont Food Pantry anticipates it will be $8,000 in the hole by the end of 2011.
Monetary donations can be mailed to Weymont Food Pantry at P.O. Box 281, Weyauwega, Wis. 54983. Among the non-perishable items the pantry needs are cereal, macaroni and cheese, canned beef stew and other canned items that have meat in them, bar and dish soap and canned tuna, salmon and chicken.