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Keeping shelves stocked
Times photo: Anthony Wahl Volunteers work to restock and organize the Albany Food Pantry last Thursday morning, Aug. 4.

Mobile pantry distribution set for Aug. 18

MONROE - The Mobile Food Pantry will have its regular distribution of perishable food items from 3 to 4 p.m., Aug. 18, at the east-side entrance of St. Vincent de Paul, 501 1st Ave., Monroe.

Low-income families, organizers say, are encouraged to attend and receive food assistance.

Families are asked to bring a large laundry basket or two, medium-sized boxes in which to place food.

Those who attended last month to receive food - and received a time slot slip - are asked to come at that time and to bring their slip.

Those without a time slip should come at 3:45 p.m.

MONROE - Amid a prolonged economic recession, some area pantries are seeing steady or rising numbers of area residents seeking help in the form of food assistance.

"This is the hardest year," said Marlys Hittesdorf, treasurer for the Pecatonica Area Food Pantry. "This is the most we've ever seen."

Yet, despite the number of those already seeking help, there may be far more people out there who need it but - for whatever reason - haven't asked for it, say those who work to fight hunger locally.

"We live in a very self-sufficient community and if (people) can't be fully self-sufficient, they feel they have failed," said Cara Carper, Green County UW Extension Natural Resource and Economic Development Educator.

"Unfortunately, in this economy, that's not the case," Carper said. "If people need them, they can use them."

Pantry organizers also say they know of many who need assistance.

"I know there are some people who could or should use these pantries but don't," said Green County Pantry's Maynard Heins. "There is a great need."

Some volunteers at various pantries in the area said there still seems to be a reluctance to ask for help or use a pantry in times of need. But they tell clients they are not alone in their struggles.

"There is nothing wrong, especially if you need help, to come and ask," said Pat Soddy, pastor at the Albany United Methodist Church.

And some needy families are simply unaware that such resources exist.

"They can call out to myself, or to the human services department, or the UW-Extension office, for a list of the pantries (in Green County)," said St. Vincent DePaul Mobile Food Pantry Store Manager Sue McGowan.

There is a diverse group of clients who use the pantry, McGowan said, including young and old, working and non-working alike.

"It's not meant to fill their cupboards, it's meant to stretch them," McGowan said.

Donations, meanwhile, are accepted at all the pantries, and items asked for include nonperishable food, like canned goods and cereals, and monetary donations to purchase needed items.

Fresh produce, like fruits and vegetables, is accepted by the pantries, though the pantries ask those who want to donate fresh produce to call to schedule a drop-off time. Most of pantries also are experiencing high demand for hygiene products.

Green County Food Pantry

Donations to the pantry come from churches, organizations and people in Green County through food and money.

The pantry volunteers work with those who have financial difficulties. Between 45 and 50 families visit the pantry each week, a steady number since last year; some are single or are single parents and cover all age ranges.

Over the last six to nine months, the number of people seeking help has risen.

"We are there to help them whenever they need the help," Heins said.

A basic box is set up, including fruits, vegetables and soups, and patrons have some choice in items that they might need.

The pantry, located at 1015 15th Avenue in Monroe, is open Mondays and patrons can come anytime between 2 to 4:30 p.m.

For more information or to donate, call the pantry at (608) 329-7511.

Green Cares

The Green Cares pantry was started amost two years ago through the help of Mary Gafner, pastor from Monticello's Washington Reformation UCC.

"This is not a church pantry," Gafner said.

With the Green County Food Pantry in Monroe open Mondays, Gafner said, there became a greater need for another pantry to serve clients.

"The county was finding that people couldn't be there during the (scheduled) times," Gafner said.

Green Cares is at W5198 County C in Monticello, but does not just help Monticello residents, but all of Green County, Gafner said.

Last year, in fact, they helped over 1,300 families. Now, numbers have risen, Gafner said, adding that from January to April, 692 families have been helped.

Not only are donations made by individuals, businesses and organizations, but Green Cares also purchases items through Madison-based Second Harvest, and through special sales at stores using donated funds. Each patron or family receives eight to 10 days worth of food from the pantry. The pantry is open Tuesdays from 4 to 7 p.m., Thursdays from 9 a.m. to noon; and Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Patrons can call ahead and request a 15-minute time slot during those hours.

St. Vincent DePaul Mobile Food Pantry

Located at 501 1st Street in Monroe, the pantry recently celebrated its 5th anniversary here. Since opening its doors, numbers have increased, organizers say.

The pantry helps an average of 150 people each month, said McGowan.

Patrons can get various items, such as meats and yogurts, as well as nonperishable items. Maple Leaf Cheese and Chocolate Haus donate between 175 and 200 cases of cheese to the pantry, which averages out to one or two blocks of cheese per person or family.

Through various grants written by pantry organizers for personal hygiene products, McGowan said they are abke to purchase products through Walgreens.

"Second Harvest (Foodbank of Southern Wisconsin) approached us with numbers and statistics," McGowan said. "There was a great need in Green County."

Without the help from the volunteers, McGowan said, the pantry would not be as functional. St. Vincent DePaul partners with Second Harvest and Catholic Charities USA, as well as St. Victor Parish. The pantry is open on the third Thursday of each month from 3 to 4 p.m. For more information, call (608) 329-7837.

Brodhead White Gift Food Pantry

Formed in 1915 by the Congregational Church, pantry organizers still see a tradition in giving. "I still get some things wrapped in white tissue paper," said pantry volunteer Ruth Brobst, referring to a tradition that dates to the pantry's founding.

The pantry receives donations from the post office, Stoughton Trail, local Boy and Girl Scouts and churches.

"It's a community affair, and a good one," Brobst said. "It's amazing to see a small community so caring."

The pantry helps those from the Brodhead School District area. Numbers vary each month, Brobst said, but on average, 30 families use it on a regular basis and about 60 families overall. Food and items given are based on the size of the family.

The pantry, located behind the Senior Citizen's Center, 1103 West 2nd Street, is open the third Saturday each month from 10 to 11:30 a.m. For more call Brobst at (608) 897-4336.

Albany Food Pantry

Soddy celebrated her 50th birthday at the end of 2008. She held a birthday party at the church, and those who attended donated nonperishable foods for the Green County Food Pantry. Her parents, charged with delivering the donations "had a truck load to deliver," she said.

Surprised by the large number of items, her dad made the comment that since there was so much support in Albany, a food pantry should open in that area. Six months later, Soddy helped create one. The pantry is supported by all four churches in Albany. The United Methodist Church hosts the pantry, in one of their smaller storage rooms.

"We don't turn anyone away but we try to keep it local," Soddy said, adding that "we don't have a large storage area."

On average, the pantry serves eight to 10 families a week, with a few more in the winter.

Soddy hopes to continue the community outreach through the pantry.

Albany Food Pantry is located at the church, 105 S. Mill Street, and is open Thursdays from 8 to 10 a.m. For more information, call the church at (608) 862-3206.

Argyle Food Pantry

Nancy Dammen has been the coordinator for the Argyle pantry for the past three years. The pantry, Dammen said, helps between 15 and 20 families on average.

"The pantry helps the ones that need it the most," Dammen said.

Donations primarily come from the community, including school, individuals and organizations. The pantry at Argyle Lutheran Church, 100 East Street, serves those who live within the Argyle School District, and patrons receive a box filled with items - depending on family size. It is open the fist and third Thursday of each month from 4 to 5:30 p.m. For more information, call Dammen at (608) 543-3451.

Pecatonica Area Food Pantry

In 1984, Barneveld was hit by a tornado that devastated the area. In response, Blanchardville Lutheran Church set up a community outreach program to help those in need by collecting food items. Since then, the pantry continues to help those who need food, said Hittesdorf. Currently, the pantry assists 18 individuals or families. Donated items come from the "generosity of those from the Hollandale and Blanchardville area," Hittesdorf said. The pantry is at Blanchardville Lutheran Church, 305 Madison Street, and is open from 10 to 11 a.m. on the first and third Wednesday of each month. For more information, call Hittesdorf at (608) 523-4047 or Gene Christen, president of the pantry, at (608) 967-2349.

Black Hawk Food Pantry

The Black Hawk Food Pantry has helped its community for nearly two decades. Five churches work with the pantry, which also gets donations from banks and schools and anonymous donors. Volunteers say they encourage people to seek help.

"I let them know it's private - we are there to help them if they need it," said Donna Larse, the group's treasurer.

On average, about 25 families use the pantry, located at the South Wayne Firehouse, 107 East Center Street. For more information, call Larse at (608) 214-5317.

Belleville Food Pantry

The pantry is at Belleville Village Hall, 24 West Main Street, and is open from 8 a.m. to noon Tuesdays; and from 1 to 4:30 p.m. Thursdays.

For more information, call the village hall at (608) 424-3341.

Holy Rosary Parish - Darlington

Holy Rosary Parish hosts "Monthly Manna" every third Friday of the month, from 2 to 3 p.m. in the church parking lot, 1400 Keep Street, Darlington. "Manna" is the Parish's mobile food pantry, funded by Catholic Charities and Second Harvest.

For more information, call the church at (608) 776-4059 or visit