Tomahawk Food Pantry continues to help those in need: Services available Wednesdays, Fridays at United Methodist Church
By Jed Buelow
Tomahawk Leader Co-Editor, Sports and Nature Editor
At a time when their services are needed more than ever, the Tomahawk Food Pantry continues to ensure nobody goes hungry in the community during the COVID-19 pandemic thanks to a dedicated group of volunteers.
Every Wednesday and Friday, the pantry opens its doors during set hours to provide those from the Tomahawk community with food and other supplies. All that is needed to receive the service is something like a driver’s license to show proof that you are from the Tomahawk area. The only information that is requested is the number of children and family members in the household who are being fed to determine how much is given.
The way the pantry provides food has had to change a bit to practice social distancing and assure the safety of volunteers and those receiving services. Those picking up items are required to stay outside while volunteers load up grocery bags and place them in a cart that is unloaded by the recipients. The cart is then given a good disinfecting before being reused to limit the chance that the virus could spread.
“We make sure the volunteers are taking precautions to make sure they are not passing it (on) or getting sick themselves,” stated Jim LaPointe, pantry organizer. “So far it has been working pretty well.”
LaPointe said the way the pantry is operating now is more similar to how other pantries typically operate. He added the pantry is always in need of items to provide clients and meat donations remain one of the biggest areas of need. He said things like hamburger and hot dogs (in pound packages) are needed. Donations can either be dropped off at the pantry in the basement of the Tomahawk United Methodist Church, 1104 School Rd., during operating hours or the pantry can be contacted to pick up larger donations.
Even before the Safer at Home order was put in place, which continues to prevent many from going to work and collecting a paycheck, the pantry had been requesting help from the community as on-hand cash to fund the voucher program was running critically low.
Every month the pantry spends roughly $2,000 in vouchers that are given to recipients so they can purchase essential items like milk, bread, eggs, cheese and milk from the grocery store to last the entire month. As a result of the lack of funding and increased demand, the voucher program was cut to from $30 to $15 and the voucher given to larger families of eight individuals or more was slashed from $60 to $20 to last the entire month.
Volunteers said they have noticed an increase in services since the Shelter in Place order went into effect, which was on top of a demand that already had gone up from 733 served in 2018 to 1,115 people served last year. An article in the Tomahawk Leader from earlier in year showed 368 more people had been served this year than at the same time last year. And those numbers are expected to continue to rise as 102 people and 44 families were served during the period from March 18 through April 15.
Those wanting to help the pantry give a hand up to help those in need can send checks to the Tomahawk United Methodist Church, 1104 School Rd., Tomahawk, Wis. 54487. Checks should be made out to the Tomahawk Food Pantry.
Items can also be dropped off at the pantry in the basement of the Tomahawk United Methodist Church from 1-3 p.m. Wednesdays and 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. when the pantry is open for food pickup.
Nokomis Food Pantry
The Nokomis Food Pantry also is remaining open to serve the public during the Shelter in Place. Organizer Bette Stillman said the pantry has seen a bit of an uptick in recent weeks and are glad to help anyone from the Lake Nokomis area that is in need.
Those in need are asked to call Stillman to set up an appointment as the pantry does not hold regular hours. She can be reached at 715-453-2415 or 715-612-2947. Outside pickup is available at the Nokomis Town Hall, located at 2541 Lake Nokomis Rd.