Donate and volunteer at food pantries to reduce impacts of government shutdown

Originally published in the Kenosha News

By Kenosha/Racine Counties FoodWIse Administrator, Terri Ward

As we face uncertainty about local impacts of the government shutdown, and as the Department of Health Services press release informs FoodShare recipients that, given the current scenario, supplemental food benefits for March will be $0.00, many people are anxious about how and where they’ll get enough food for their families.

Local emergency food organizations are preparing and have weighed in on ways to support them and our neighbors in need.

Can food pantries fill the need?

Food pantries vary in the scope of assistance they provide to those in need of emergency food; however, most have policies that offer a supply of emergency food once a month with enough for about three to four days based on household size.

Most pantries also actively work to help clients find sustainable solutions to food insecurity.

To summarize, food pantries provide a much-needed yet relatively minimal amount of assistance in the grand scheme of feeding people in need and risk shortages if federal food supplements such as FoodShare and WIC are stalled.

Two local pantries that provide the majority of emergency food in Kenosha County shared comments:

“The Sharing Center will implement its emergency plan should there be no FoodShare issued for an indefinite time. Currently, many other pantries and food banks are in disaster preparation mode, anticipating double or triple numbers needing help, and working to gather the food to cover that need. Yes, many furloughed government workers are now using local food pantries to be able to feed their families. Want to assist? Please consider a food drive. Call your local pantry and ask them what they need. They will appreciate it.” — Sharon Pomaville, executive director, The Sharing Center Food Pantry

“The Shalom Center Food Pantry is here as a support system for those in need. Together, we can help our neighbors who are experiencing financial hardship. For those in need visit http://shalomcenter.org/food-pantry/ for details on pantry hours and services. Requirements include a valid Kenosha County picture ID and a utility bill (verification of address), and name and birth date of each person in your household. If you need a nightly meal, you can visit one of our soup kitchen network locations, which a list of locations can be found at http://shalomcenter.org/soup-kitchen/. To volunteer, contact Lynn Kancian, at 262-658-1713, ext. 104. To make a donation, visit our website at www.shalomcenter.org.” — Tamarra Coleman, interim executive director, Shalom Center and Food Pantry

Who uses FoodShare in Kenosha and state?

Kenosha County is home to just over 20,000 residents who receive some assistance from the FoodShare program.

While about 13 percent of Kenosha County residents live in poverty, the rate for children is 22 percent and for seniors, 12 percent.

In the state of Wisconsin overall, 43 percent of FoodShare recipients are children, 46 percent of FoodShare families have at least one person who is elderly, blind, or has disabilities, and 40 percent of all adult FoodShare recipients are employed.

Please consider donating nutrient-dense foods, money and time to your local pantry to support this community need.