Every Friday afternoon when the Cadott Food Pantry opens, coordinator Jeanne Carlson can almost guarantee at least 25 families will walk through the door looking for bread, eggs and other food.
The need is “way up,” at her pantry, she said. But her pantry isn’t the only one serving more families lately.
Capt. Robert Duskin said the Salvation Army Food Pantry in Chippewa Falls also has more visitors.
“In some cases we’re seeing more need, especially with the things the government is doing,” he said, noting many are no longer receiving unemployment insurance checks or are expecting to lose them after it was announced the maximum eligibility period will be 93 weeks starting today.
Those checks have become important as many are still without jobs. Unemployment for Chippewa County sat at 7.3 percent in June, according to the Department of Workforce Development.
“There just isn’t employment out there,” Carlson said.
William Grinder has seen the recession hit the Cornell Food Pantry as well, with participation leaping about 25 percent.
“It’s up a lot because we started being open two times a week,” he said. The second day was added to help more in need.
In Jim Falls, participation is average, with 20 to 35 families being helped on a weekly basis, however organizer Candice Scheidecker expects need to rise again soon.
“Over the winter, we see more of a push,” she said, adding more people need food because they’ve added heating and electric expenses.
Families served in Jim Falls also need fewer free meals in the summer and fall because they grow their own produce in gardens.
However, for those who don’t, local farmers often chip in.
“We actually will start seeing that at the end of August, beginning of September,” Scheidecker said.
Most farmers near her city can as much of their produce as possible, but when there’s still some left over, they will drop it off at the Jim Falls United Methodist Church, where the pantry is held.
“We actually love it when our farmers do it. We just love giving homegrown fresh products,” Scheidecker said.
Plenty of local growers contribute in Cadott. One man brings in eggs regularly, another woman drops off two bushels of peppers at the end of the growing season, and Carlson also gets in fresh tomatoes, apples, squash and pumpkins.
“I refuse nothing,” she said.
Fresh foods are also popular in Chippewa Falls.
“It’s always better to have those more fresh products,” Duskin said.
Currently food donations at the Salvation Army are on par with need, however the organization could use more funds.
“We’re a little behind on what we’re receiving monetarily,” Duskin said.
Cornell’s donations have also dropped.
“Our donations are down some, probably 20 percent, but that’s to be expected given the (economic) circumstances,” Grinder said.
The Jim Falls Food Pantry has a lot of community support but could always use more. Right now most of their donations come from food drives at Jim Falls Elementary School, Church of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, the post office and a fundraiser run by the Dam Shot Saloon.
Cadott’s food comes from Feed My People Food Bank in Eau Claire, drives at St. Rose of Lima Church and English Lutheran Church in Bateman, and purchases with federal grants, as well as from personal donations by community members.
Carlson said donations have been adequate, but she’ll always have families to distribute more to.
“I keep saying we must be doing something right if God keeps supplying us,” she said.
If you are need of food, area pantries can assist. Here are some of their locations and hours of operation:
Salvation Army Food Pantry in Chippewa Falls
- The pantry serves anyone living in the Chippewa Falls School District boundaries. It’s open 9 a.m. to noon and 1-4 p.m. Monday-Friday at 521 North Bridge St., Chippewa Falls.
Cadott Food Pantry
- The pantry serves Cadott area residents. It’s open noon to 4 p.m. Fridays at 323 N. Main St., Cadott.
Cornell Food Pantry
- It serves Cornell and Holcombe area residents. The pantry is open on Thursdays with a free breakfast served 7-8:30 a.m. and food distribution from 8:30 a.m. until everyone is served at 401 S. Second St., Cornell. The pantry is also open 6-7 p.m. Tuesdays.
Jim Falls Food Pantry
- It serves Jim Falls area residents. The pantry is open 4-6 p.m. at the Jim Falls United Methodist Church, 13883 County S, Jim Falls.
Our Savior’s Lutheran Church Pantry Food Pantry
- The pantry serves the Stanley and Cadott areas. It’s held 1-4 p.m. the second Monday of every months at Our Savior’s Lutheran Church, 147 E. Fourth St., Stanley.