For the City Times
Submitted by Mare DeByl
WISCONSIN RAPIDS – The Neighborhood Table (TNT) and the South Wood Emerging Pantry Shelf (SWEPS) today announced the impact of the last three years’ mobile food pantries the two organizations helped bring to the South Wood County area. In partnering with Feeding America of Eastern Wisconsin and other area supporters, 13 mobile food pantries were brought to South Wood County, serving a total of 14,353 people in 4,832 households. The amount of food distributed is estimated to total about 260,000 pounds. The mobile food pantries were held in the south parking lot of the United Methodist Church, 441 Garfield Street, Wisconsin Rapids.
Dale Bikowski, former president and current board member of TNT, commented, “The effort to host and distribute food at these mobile food pantries is tremendous. We wouldn’t be able to have these mobile food pantries if it wasn’t for the dedicated help from the 60 some volunteers that help each time. The showing of support from the community is exceptional and essential. We can’t thank the volunteers enough for their efforts in making our community a better place for our residents.”
Terri Rapp, chairperson of SWEPS, added, “The response and participation to these mobile food pantries by area residents is proof positive that food insecurity is prevalent in our area. We hope to continue these pantries in 2018 and are currently seeking the financial backing to do so. The recipients greatly appreciate the food they receive at the mobile pantries, especially during the summer months when kids are out of school and eating more meals at home.”
Partners who provided the financial backing for the past mobile food pantries include Feeding America of Eastern Wisconsin, Aspirus Riverview Foundation, and Ministry Health Care and Security Health Plan. Representatives from TNT and SWEPS orchestrated and recruited the volunteers needed to execute each mobile food pantry. According to both Bikowski and Rapp, the whole process is a “well-oiled machine.”
Additional efficiencies have been seen in reducing the area’s food insecurity as both TNT and SWEPS now utilize the same operations manager, Dale Davis. The programs share more resources for food procurement and storage, volunteers and food donations received. Davis can be reached at (715) 422-2050.
Details of future mobile food pantries will be promoted on The Neighborhood Table’s Facebook page, www.theneighborhoodtable.org as well as the Facebook page of SWEPS of Wisconsin Rapids and www.swepspantry.org.