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Stock the Shelves update: Plant closure may leave families hungry

Oct. 28, 2012
 
Some of the produce from the community garden behind the Kewaunee County Food Pantry, 1528 Sunset Ave., Algoma.
Some of the produce from the community garden behind the Kewaunee County Food Pantry, 1528 Sunset Ave., Algoma. / Warren Bluhm/Kewaunee County Star-News

Pantry

Call (920) 487-3663 for information about Kewaunee County Food Pantry Inc.
After collecting more than $3,000 in two days, the Green Bay Press-Gazette’s Stock the Shelves campaign has raised $9,230 through Thursday. The six-week effort ends Nov. 25 and seeks to raise $100,000 to benefit 11 area pantries and programs. To help, visit www.greenbaypressgazette.com/stocktheshelves.

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ALGOMA — The projected loss of 650 jobs due to the planned closure of the Kewaunee nuclear power plant next year could mean more families without food.

Kewaunee County Food Pantry Inc. now feeds about 140 families a month, and that number may rise at least 25 percent next summer due to the scheduled shutdown of the Kewaunee Power Station in Carlton, pantry president Ken Marquardt said.

“We’re going to try to budget some extra money for food and may have to cut down the amount of food we give to people to help additional people, but I hope that’s not the case,” he said.

The plant provides 30.3 percent of income in Kewaunee County, based on 800 employees including workers brought in to work at the plant, according to economic staff at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

The food pantry is one of 11 programs set to benefit from the Press-Gazette’s Stock the Shelves campaign this year. The newspaper is seeking to raise $100,000 to help support needy families.

Marquardt, 65, of Algoma, said he will use those donations to buy food, and he has seen up close the area’s need, including a couple who said they had not eaten in three days and a woman who said she could only afford to eat one meal a day.

“Those are the people you really try to help out if you can,” Marquardt said. “There are probably some people in the community who should come in to receive food, but, because of pride, they just don’t want to.”

Kewaunee County residents that meet income guidelines can pick up food once a month at the pantry, 1528 Sunset Ave.,which is open from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. every Monday and Wednesday. The food typically lasts a family a week and is designed to supplement other household food, Marquardt said.

More food is sometimes given to families who experience emergencies, such as divorce or recent unemployment, he said.

Because it’s a “client choice” pantry, volunteers don’t pre-prepare food boxes but instead help families select their own food, which Marquardt said helps limit waste and boosts client satisfaction.

Each year, more families seek food assistance from the pantry, which Marquardt attributes to an increased awareness. He has seen an even greater need among residents who live in outlying areas, such as Luxemburg and Kewaunee, he said.

According to pantry records, the bulk of the pantry’s clients — about 100 families — live in the Algoma area. However, 42 families live in Kewaunee, 34 in Luxemburg, 28 in Casco and a smaller amount live in rural areas across the county.

A pantry survey last year found about 25 percent of clients also received food from the Heavenly Business Food Pantry, operated by Calvary Assembly of God Church in Algoma. That pantry also will receive a donation through this year’s Stock the Shelves campaign.

“Some people perhaps want to take advantage of whatever they can get; others have a real genuine need,” Marquardt said of the survey results.

The volunteer-staffed Kewaunee County Food Pantry resells furniture and uses proceeds to feed families while also relying on community donations and food drives. It costs up to $1,500 a month to feed families, not including donated food, Marquardt said.

The pantry has also experienced a sizable loss in federal food donations, which is a concern, Marquardt said.

To help, volunteers have started a community garden behind the pantry. In August, the pantry raised $13,000 through its annual Dancing in the Streets fundraiser. Organizers are also looking into a community outreach initiative that will match residents in need with volunteers to help with household duties, such as window cleaning or washing clothes.

cedavis@greenbaypressgazette.com and follow him on Twitter @pgcharlesdavis.

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