Waupaca officers serve community meal
By Angie Landsverk
The Waupaca Police Department turned a donation into an opportunity to build community relations.
On March 28, officers helped prepare and serve the Bread Basket dinner, at First United Methodist Church.
The family of the late Tom Godfrey donated funds to the police department.
Godfrey was a prior police commissioner, and the donation was to go toward building community relations, said Police Chief Brian Hoelzel.
The department decided to use the funds to build relationships and serve the community at the same time.
“We did this years ago,” Hoelzel said of serving a Bread Basket meal.
When Jeri Allen joined the department four years ago as its administrative assistant, the department talked about different ways it could get involved in the community, he said.
“Jeri contacted someone from the Bread Basket, because they are always looking for people to sponsors meals,” Hoelzel said. “She got it set up and purchased all the food.”
Allen is among those who started the Bread Basket just over 20 years ago.
The free, weekly meal is open to all seeking food and fellowship.
The doors of the church open at 4 p.m. each Tuesday.
Volunteers begin serving the dinner at 4:40 p.m. and are usually done serving and cleaning up by 6:30 p.m.
Kathy Barnhart is a board member and has been with the program since it started.
City of Waupaca residents who have no way of getting to the church may receive free rides to and from the Bread Basket through Waupaca Taxi, she said.
The Bread Basket began at St. Mark’s Episcopal Church and after outgrowing its space there, moved to First United Methodist Church.
The weekly dinner is served by the program’s board, as well as by churches, schools, civic groups and Waupaca area businesses and families.
Board members are on hand around 1 p.m. each week to begin cooking.
The dinner sponsored by Waupaca’s police department included ham, scalloped potatoes and green beans.
“People from the department donated cakes for desserts,” Hoelzel said.
Detective Sgt. John Helgeson and Police Officer Diana Flatoff helped serve the meal.
Other officers hoped to stop by during their shift.
Barb Robbert, an administrative assistant at City Hall, also volunteered.
With the members of the police department dressed in street clothes, it gave the diners the opportunity to see the officers in another capacity.
“It’s nice being recognized for more than just the uniform,” Flatoff said.
Prior to working at the police department, Allen worked at the Waupaca County Sheriff’s Office for 12 years.
During her tenure there, she also organized volunteers to serve at the Bread Basket.