The Weymont Food Pantry’s annual Thanksgiving Basket Program is now able to take place this weekend.
“It’s because of a generous donation from an individual that the pantry is able to give out the Thanksgiving baskets this year,” said Phyllis Koch, who chairs the pantry’s board of directors.
About 90 area families will receive the baskets Saturday, Nov. 19 at the pantry’s site in Weyauwega.
The baskets will include a meat voucher for up to $10, potatoes, two kinds of vegetables, cranberries, a pumpkin pie mix, a boxed Jello dessert and stuffing mix, she said.
“It’s enough to make a whole meal,” Koch said.
It was on Friday, Oct. 28 that the food pantry received a large donation in the mail for the Thanksgiving program. The donor wishes to remain anonymous.
At a meeting in early October, the pantry’s board of directors had decided to cut the Thanksgiving Basket Program and to stop purchasing dish and bar soap.
That was after learning that through September of this year, the food pantry’s income totaled $9,592, while expenses totaled $20,133 for a net loss of $10,541.
The decision to cancel this year’s Thanksgiving program was announced in the Oct. 13 County Post West.
Cash donations had been down, and at the same time, the U.S. Government Commodities Food Program cut its distribution to area food pantries.
While Weymont Food Pantry had been receiving between 120 and 200 cases of food each month through the program, it is now receiving about 20 cases of food per month.
The government commodities often include such items as cheese, hamburger and chicken.
When needed staples are not among the donated items or government commodities the pantry receives, they are purchased for it.
In addition to the anonymous donation, the food pantry has since also received other cash donations, including $200 from the Weyauwega-Fremont Lions Club, $200 from Weyauwega VFW Post 10407 and $250 from a Nov. 12 community brat fry at KD’s IGA in Weyauwega.
Days after the pantry received the large donation in the mail, 100 letters went out to the recipients of the food pantry, informing them that there would indeed be a Thanksgiving Basket Program this year. They had to reply to the letter so the pantry knows how many to prepare.
“They can pick them up at the food pantry just as they always do,” Koch said.
The pantry is also receiving more non-perishable food items since making the communities aware of the financial situation it was facing.
“I think some of the churches have been putting out baskets for collecting,” she said.
Koch said this is “above and beyond” what the churches have always done.
The Weymont Food Pantry, which opened on Jan. 18, 1993 in the school district’s old middle school, has a board of directors made up of representatives from the participating churches.
Those churches are Ss. Peter & Paul Catholic Church in Weyauwega, St. John’s Lutheran Church in Baldwins Mill, Hope United Church of Christ in Fremont, First Presbyterian Church in Weyauwega, Christ Lutheran Church in West Bloomfield, St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in Fremont and St. Peter’s Lutheran Church in Weyauwega.
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 Boys Scouts in October, and the Girl Scouts usually do a hygiene drive.
“This morning (Monday, Nov. 14), we found food standing by the door (to the pantry). No one knows who it’s from,” Koch said.
Weymont Food Pantry serves families in the Weyauwega-Fremont School District. Last year, the pantry served an average of 165 families a month, or 960 people.
The pantry is open on Mondays, from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. and also from 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m., with the exception of holidays. Beginning next year, when a holiday does fall on a Monday, the pantry will then be open the next day.
There are certain non-perishable food items the pantry always needs, and they include peanut butter, canned meat, meals in a can, canned tomatoes, pasta, spaghetti sauce, cereal and soup.
Donations can be dropped off when the pantry is open. Monetary donations can be mailed to Weymont Food Pantry at P.O. Box 281, Weyauwega, Wis. 54983.
“We will be able to buy the things we’re not receiving from the government,” Koch said of the recent cash donations to the pantry. “It’s been a great help, and we thank everybody that’s been generous to do this. It was a big surprise.”