De Pere Christian Outreach is a coalition of nine churches, including three Catholic parishes: Our Lady of Lourdes, St. Francis Xavier and St. Mary. The food pantry, founded by Marian Jauss nearly 20 years ago, is housed at St. Anne’s Episcopal Church. The need has outgrown the space, so construction of a 2,900-square-foot building will begin in the spring of 2012 on the grounds of St. Anne’s. A ground-breaking ceremony took place on Dec. 1.
Food pantry support
Other pantries are invited to submit information about specific needs, contact information and hours of operation to be included in The Compass. Send information via email to compass[email protected], subject: Pantry Support. Alternatively, mail to The Compass, Pantry Support, 1825 Riverside Drive, PO Box 23825, Green Bay, WI 54305-3825.
Jim Stupka, co-chair of the building project, said the pantry complements the work of larger organizations such as Paul’s Pantry of Green Bay. The mission is to specifically reach out to De Pere area residents.
“We have seen an amazing jump of people who need our help and they are right here in De Pere,” said Dodson. “Sometimes we think of De Pere as a nice middle-class community, and for the most part it is, but there is a segment of our population that really needs our help.”
The member churches support the pantry through volunteer service and food drives. Food is also received through donations from other organizations and individuals. Dodson pointed to the Girls Scouts of De Pere for their recent generosity. The girls, 118 in number, participated in a scavenger hunt for the pantry, collecting 4,100 food items.
“The floor was literally covered with food,” said Dodson. “It’s so great to see people coming together for this wonderful cause. We also had, in the last month, a mother who came in with her pre-schooler who went trick-or-treating for the food pantry. He brought in 108 cans of food.”
The current space is a converted storage room at St. Anne’s. It no longer provides sufficient space to sort donations, store items and prepare food baskets. The operation has spilled into other areas of the church. The new facility will be specifically designed as a food distribution center with a large open area and two garage doors. Performa provided architectural drawings at no charge. Attorney Tom Kiedatz also donated his services.
“It will be a beautiful facility that will serve the growing needs of the future,” said Stupka, “and there will be no steps.”
De Pere Christian Outreach also runs a thrift store, which provides both merchandise and financial support to other organizations such as Freedom House, NEW Community Shelter and House of Hope (a program of St. Vincent de Paul), said Jerry Bos, director. Last year, the thrift store reached $250,000 in sales and will top that total this year.
The pantry has a consistent need for basic food items, said Dodson.
“We are always running out of peanut butter and jelly,” she said. “You know how that can feed children. Spaghetti is another thing we run out of frequently. Every can is wonderful.”