Food Pantries Ready to Provide More Produce

CHAT Refrigerators

Clients at local food pantries will receive more fresh produce, thanks to a donation from ThedaCare’s Community Health Action Team, or CHAT.

As part of the Healthier Foods in Food Pantry Initiative that stemmed from the New London Plunge into Obesity, the New London CHAT approved $3,500 to purchase refrigerators for the food pantries of Waupaca, New London, Weymont, Manawa and Clintonville. The food pantry committee found that storage is an issue. “This will provide them with additional storage space for fresh fruits and vegetables,” said Kaye Thompson, from ThedaCare’s Community Health Improvement.

Rita Thiel, co-chair of the food pantry committee, agreed. “There are many health benefits to fresh fruit and vegetables,” she said. “We are excited to bring those items to the tables of our local community members.”

Reverend Greg Watling, First Congregational UCC, New London, said the refrigerators will fill a vital need in the community. “I see the need for fresh produce, not to mention an increasing need for the food pantry in general, in the New London area,” he said.

The food pantries worked together and agreed refrigerators are needed. “Some had no refrigerator at all, and others just didn’t have adequate space even to receive the produce,” said Watling.

This would also benefit plans for community gardens in New London. A couple plots will be dedicated to growing vegetables to be sent to local pantries.

The process has also brought the food pantries together, Watling noted. Prior to the plunge, the leaders of the pantries never really met, he said. “Our team became the catalyst for this collaboration that I think will last well into the future and be self-directed,” said Watling. “The pantries are working together, talking together, sharing stories and resources together to best serve the needs of the clients in the whole region. The dividends that will come from that collaboration will far outweigh the actual refrigerator purchase.  I’m so glad to have been a small part in making that collaboration happen.”

Food pantries involved include:

Hortonville/Dale Food Pantry
New London Community Cupboard
Waupaca Food Pantry
MAC-  Manawa Area Communities Food Pantry
Weymont Food Pantry
Clintonville/Marion Food Pantry
St. John’s Thrift Store/Ruby’s Pantry, New London
Iola/Scandinavia Food Pantry
Marion Food Pantry
Project Backpack, New London
Project Backpack, Waupaca