Our Clintonville Area Food Pantry serves more households today than it ever has in its 30-plus years of service. In 2014 they served 1,406 households, compared to 1,310 in 2013. Why is the need for extra food greater today?
Local contacts at the Community Meal, at Ruby’s Pantry, and the staff and board members at the CAFP have a few insights to answer this question. You might have your own ideas on why this is happening. However, understanding why there is a need may help in the future, but it does not help us to deal with the food pantry’s real need today.
The reality is the Clintonville area Food Pantry (CAFP) and Ruby’s Pantry are struggling today to meet an increased need for more food more often for more households. The truly relevant question is: How can we help today?
You might guess the answer to be “with money and time,” and you’d be right. However, the CAFP staff and board would say, what we need most is more willing helpers. Dependable volunteers, giving a few hours a month on a regular basis would be the most helpful gift you could give to meet the needs of food pantry clients.
Annual drives by the Boy Scouts and Post Office employees and Girl Scouts, and regular collections by churches and other organizations provide the basic supply of items that are given out. In spite of the amount of food collected in these ways, many basic staples are not donated in enough quantity. So, to have an adequate amount of those staples on hand, some of the food must be purchased from Feeding America (Second Harvest), and area retail food outlets. Overstocked or nearly expired food, including produce and bakery, are often donated.
Think of all the time that is required to get these items ready for distribution. It is up to the pantry to pick up many of these items. Once the items are picked up and transported, they must be carried into the pantry. The CAFP is located in the basement of the Old Armory on East 12th Street, which means lots of steps, lots of lifting lots of time. Then volunteers must do the weighing, recording, sorting, and restocking shelves when needed.
Most of this work is done “behind the scenes, when the pantry is not open. The regular hours for clients to come to the pantry are: Mondays from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., and Thursdays from 3 to 5 p.m. Even with these limited hours, only four hours a week, the Pantry has served 340 people in 120 households in January 2014.
If you would like to schedule a time to help at the CAFP, please call Dave Schmidt at 715-823-4597 or Melissa Wait at 715-823-3306. AS you may have guessed before, in addition to the time, they need $1,200 to $1,500 a month to maintain their level of service. So donations are always welcomed.
For those unfamiliar with the work and space needs of the CAFP, you may come to the Food Pantry Awareness Day Open House coming soon. You can climb down the stairs, and see the small room they use, their storage areas, and the volume and variety of items they must keep on hand for over 300 people per month. Watch for the date, and then come down and see for yourself.