Pantry Matters

Written by Bethany Lerch

In 1989, a handful of churches worked together to start the Ecumenical Food Pantry in a small room inside Trinity Episcopal in downtown Oshkosh. What began as a small customer base soon grew beyond the 12′ by 25′ room inside Parish Hall. That’s when the seven churches really built momentum with volunteers and financial support.

Then, in January 2008, it evolved into a new nonprofit organization, the Oshkosh Area Community Pantry. That year, as poverty rose, it served more than 14,000 customers. And with poverty comes food insecurity. According to Feeding America:

  • In 2011, 50.1 million Americans lived in food insecure households
  • In 2011, 14.9 percent of households were food insecure.
  • In 2011, households with children reported food insecurity at a significantly higher rate than those without children, 20.6 percent compared to 12.2percent.
  • In 2011, households that had higher rates of food insecurity than the national average included households with children (20.6 percent), especially households with children headed by single women (36.8 percent) or single men (24.9 percent), Black non-Hispanic households (25.1 percent) and Hispanic households (26.2 percent).
  • In 2011, 8.8 percent of seniors living alone were food insecure.

Food insecurity is a serious problem in Winnebago County. It means that children and adults may have to drastically reduce their food intake or resort to unhealthy foods that are more affordable. Consumption, or lack thereof, impacts academic performance for children in school and perpetuates higher crime rates in adults. Poverty, and hunger, are powerful. Mahatma Gandhi once said “Poverty is the worst kind of violence.”

In a small effort to help end this cycle, Rotaract Oshkosh has dedicated itself to a monthly volunteer commitment at the Oshkosh Area Community Pantry. We want to make a difference for people affected by food insecurity right here at home. Join us the first Monday of every month anytime between 3-7 pm to help check in customers, organize food shipments and stock shelves. The next time: Tomorrow, Monday, 1 July.

Until then, here are a few photos from our 17 June service project with the pantry:

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