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New digs for a busy food pantry

Funviralpark 1 year ago 0 6

The Saukville Community Food Pantry enters the new year with a special goal of moving into a new facility by the end of 2023.

Board Chairman Sarah Pashak said Tuesday that Pantry will purchase the former Tri-Par headquarters on the corner of South Main Street and Green Bay Avenue from the Galle family on February 1. Told.

The organization has been fundraising in the last year and has raised about half the funds needed to reach its $1 million goal to purchase and renovate the structure, she said.

The efforts ranged from writing for grants worth tens of thousands of dollars to small but equally meaningful gestures, such as a student at Thomas Jefferson Middle School in Port raising money for a concert.

“When you talk to people about food pantries, they ask, ‘How can you help us?'” Pashak said. “There are so many great people in this county and beyond.

“It’s very exciting. We’re making some serious progress. Now we’re all sorts of dreaming about how much we can do there.”

Pantry organizers are already starting to make their dreams come true to some extent. The Pantry has been renting the building for several months and is moving items currently stored at the rental facility to the site, Pashak said.

“People probably noticed something going on inside the building,” she said.

The new space will measure approximately 15,000 square feet, and the organization will have not only a large pantry like a grocery store, but also spacious rooms to host community dinners and storage space to support their use. You can make one, said Pashak.

The building will be more accessible to clients and volunteers, many of whom are seniors, because it’s accessible from the ground floor, she notes, and a loading dock will help the pantry pick up food to distribute to clients. added.

The most important thing is being able to better serve pantry customers, she said, noting that the number of people using pantries has increased significantly over the years.

When the pantry opened in August 2012, it served 23 households, according to Pashak. Last month he served 600 households and 150 signed up for Pantry’s Holiday Box.

“This is more than it used to be,” says Pashak.

The maximum occupancy of the pantry in August 2022 was 699.

Pashak said pantry use “went through the roof” during the pandemic.

“When we reopened, that number continued to grow. From 2020 to 2021, from 2021 to 2022, it is increasing year by year. We are serving more people than the county has ever served. We are offering.”

Not everyone visits the pantry on a regular basis, says Pashak.

“Our patrons come and go as needed,” she said. “We don’t see 600 people (family members) every month.

Most are employed, but can’t make ends meet.

“It’s hard to be poor in a rich county,” Pashak said. “There is no public transportation. There is very little affordable housing.People need to realize that some of their neighbors are barely alive every week. .”

Pashak added that the numbers don’t tell the whole story.

“I know it’s hard to come to the food pantry, so I know the need is very high,” she said.

Their customers aren’t limited to Saukville, Pashak said, so The Pantry is considering changing its name to reflect its mission to serve the entire county, but nothing has been finalized. not.

Having its own building also helps the pantry gain visibility in the village and county, Pashak said.

“It will help get our name and story out there,” she said. “Nobody knows about the Saukville Community Food Pantry.”

The Pantry serves its customers well, but space is an issue, Pashak said, adding that Pantry’s current home in the basement of Parkside Community Church is about 6,000 square feet of “cobbled” land. said to be a space.

“What we thought was, do we do less, do we scale right, or do we do more,” she said.

The board decided expansion was the best option, but found there was no fit in the market.

We then spoke with James Schowalter, President and Chief Operating Officer of the State Bank of Port Washington. The building was not on the market, Pashak said, but the family was “very excited to sell it for our purposes.”

“They offered us a great price and gave us a large donation,” she said.

The pantry buys the property in a land contract, she said, adding that the renovations will cost more than the building itself. , which includes exterior improvements.

According to Pashak, the building is “huge,” with large open warehouses, pantries and community rooms. A full-view garage door helps make it an indoor-outdoor space that can be used for events and community dining.

People can get groceries more easily by driving through where gas pumps used to be

The current office is usable and has space to store school supplies. There is a conference room and a space they could potentially lease.

Pashak said the renovated building will look attractive and make people feel welcome.

“There is so much stigma in the pantry, and we want to take as many of them away as possible,” she said. “We hope that when people come to The Pantry, it feels like a community dining restaurant and grocery store.”

There’s room to expand their hydroponic garden — the pantry grows its own lettuce year-round — perhaps bringing a composting program in-house and eventually selling the compost and building a community garden. create.

“This is an exciting future story,” Pashak said. “There are many things we can do in the future.”

Executive Director Mark Geerak has many other ideas for the future, she added. He is always thinking of additional things we can do. ”

Pashak said Pantry worked with the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Community Design Solutions group to conduct research to justify the expansion and come up with design concepts for the building.

They are now looking for architectural firms and contractors to bring that vision to life, she said.

One of the things they want to do with the building is to reflect the long history of the village, perhaps through murals, says Pashak, which has been a bookbinder, a metalworking shop, a car dealership and a service station. I pointed out that

Car dealer Ernie von Schredrunn bought a Volkswagen dealership that operated at the location when he started his business, she said.Family.

Port State Bank, which has helped with fundraising and other aspects, will probably be recognized in the welcome area.

Pashak said the Pantry is continuing to raise funds in earnest.It has asked Ozaukee County to donate a portion of the U.S. Rescue Plans Act funds to support the new facility, which was announced in March. We are planning a celebration on the 4th.

Pashak received $100,000 from the Gull family, $50,000 from Aurora’s medical staff, $100,000 from the Otto Bremmer Foundation, $25,000 from Brico Fund, $5,000 from Schmidt Brothers, and $50,000 from We. He said he was equally excited about large donations, including donations from local businesses such as $10,000. Energy, $10,000 from Kemp’s, $5,000 from Be3 — as small.

“There is still a long way to go, but this is very exciting,” she said. “It’s like a dream now.”

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