WEST BEND — Volunteers at a Washington County food bank are bracing for the need for food aid to skyrocket, once pandemic aid dries up.
Tucked away on the east side of West Bend is Full Shelf Food Pantry. It is 100 percent volunteer run.
65-year-old Renee Scott is one of those volunteers. She also receives food aid from here once a month.
“I got money for my house insurance and car insurance, so I have that readily available, instead of wondering where I'm going to get this money from,” said Scott.
Through federal aid and private donations, Gary Rankin says they have been able to keep the shelves full for those who need it. “There's a big need up here for people in the area," said Rankin.
According to United Way of Wisconsin, as of 2018, 6 percent of people who live in the county are in poverty and 21 percent of families are considered an A.L.I.C.E. household. This stands for Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed.
“I think a lot of people don't want to come forward," said Rankin.
Before the pandemic, Full Shelf Food Pantry said it helped 400 families a month. Now they are about 285.
“Part of it is the subsidies people are getting, but I also think some of the elderly people are even leary of coming in. I think they’re more skittish of going out in public,” says Rankin.
They’ve gone into schools, offering to fill backpacks full of food for students and their families. Three years ago they helped 50 families. Rankin says today they are at 150.
“When I first started here, I was totally surprised even as a teacher. I didn't see the need being that great," said Rankin.
The hope is for more people to realize the need is great, before it becomes too late.
Here is information on the in West Bend:
Donations are collected weekdays from 6:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m.