By TRICIA HILL
Boscobel’s food pantry is one of the many Southwestern Wisconsin Community Action Programs that are in the five-county service area that includes Grant, Green, Iowa, Lafayette and Richland counties. The food pantry assists income eligible families and individuals in their communities, providing them with nutritional foods that support the growth and development of our communities’ citizens. In order to be income eligible for the food pantry the family needs to meet 185 percent of the federal poverty level.
“We are not associated with the mobile food pantries that have no certain eligibility for their families,” Manager Michelle Friedrich said.
Boscobel’s food pantry covers the northern part of Grant County and in the month of July helped 253 families, which included 221 children and 205 adults. This is a huge jump for the Boscobel food pantry as they helped approximately 117 families in the months of June and May. The food pantry is open three days a week on Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Families are asked to call in advance so the food can be packaged and ready for them to pick up when they stop.
The Boscobel food pantry only allows families to visit once every 30 days unless there is an emergency need for the food earlier. The goal is to help the families the best that they can because they do not want to see them go without food either.
That is becoming increasingly more difficult for the food pantry as families in need continues to grow and their supplies and money to purchase supplies seem to be decreasing. Friedrich receives a certain amount of food from USDA, however, it is divided between the four pantries in the Grant County area so Boscobel only receives a quarter of it. After visiting the pantry there were many spots on their shelves bare as well as their freezer spaces.
“Right now a huge need for us is the breakfast area,” Friedrich said.
Friedrich just recently received her USDA truckload of food and it contained 10 cases of cereal. With the amount of families they have that was only enough to give each family one box apiece. With a family the size of four or more they should really be receiving about three boxes apiece.
The Boscobel food pantry is in need of not just donations but also people willing to volunteer their help with stocking, preparing boxes of food and supplies for families, helping unload trucks and much more. Friedrich will soon be in a sticky position, only having one volunteer out of her three that are going to be available to help her.
Donations made to the food pantry can come in all forms, whether it is food or money. Even now with hunting season just around the corner, people are more than welcome to donate venison if they choose. The only thing is the venison has to be processed at a locker in order for the pantry to be able to accept the donation. The pantry has recently received donations from WGLR and the Boscobel Chamber of Commerce totaling $1,000 and that was just enough to cover the cost of one bill that had Friedrich received for the purchasing of food.
“Money is always a good donation because I can purchase things from Second Harvest in Madison for less than others can buy at a store,” Friedrich said. “I can get meat for 18 cents a pound, so I could buy 50 pounds of meat for $9, including pork, beef, and poultry.”
Around the Grant County area, the Boscobel food pantry does receive help from Lancaster Blue Boy Bakery and Fennimore’s Kwik Trip. Friedrich has also made arrangements to receive donations from Boscobel’s Kwik Trip. Currently, there have not been any other Boscobel businesses able to work with the food pantry.
If you do not have a lot of money to contribute to the food pantry, a good way to help would be to shop at the Southwest CAP Thrift Store located in the same building as the Food Pantry on Johnson Street in the Boscobel Industrial Park. Once the building’s costs are paid out of the money earned at the thrift store, the rest of the proceeds go to helping the food pantry. The thrift store is open during the week Monday, Wednesday and Friday 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., and on Saturdays 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.
In order to keep things going, Friedrich she has to rob from Peter to pay Paul, which tends to leave her account in the red. If things continue to stay in the red, Friedrich fears she will have to start sending families to other pantries in the future.
If interested in donating items to the food pantry or volunteering time to help families in need contact Friedrich at 608-375-5903 or 608-935-2326, extension 213.