OSHKOSH, Wis. (WFRV) – Hundreds of volunteers on Thursday from the Oshkosh Corporation worked to help fill a need in Northeast Wisconsin.

“In light of COVID, our pantries are feeling the struggle. Our families are feeling the struggle,” says Liz Wollenberg of Feeding America Eastern Wisconsin. “And so getting a bunch of volunteers to get out and share their talent with us to pack this food, it’s impactful for people trying to make ends meet right now.”

Crews were scooping, weighing, and packing up thousands of pounds of rice and beans.

“We can’t send 2,000 pound totes to a family. So we need volunteers to come in and package that food and make it into family-friendly portions and then we can send it out to those that are in need in the community,” explains Wollenberg.

  • Volunteers from the Oshkosh Corporation help fill bags of beans and rice for Feeding America Eastern Wisconsin on Sept. 16, 2021. (WFRV)

Over a 12-hour period, more than 100,000 pounds will be boxed up and ready for pantries across the area.

To help keep volunteers motivated, Oshkosh Corporation brought in live music.

“‘Feed the body, Feed the Soul’ started a few years ago for us, so this is the fourth year doing this event and it’s all about making sure we feed the body for those that are in our community but feed the soul of our volunteers,” says Jodie Larsen, Vice President of Community Engagement for the Oshkosh Corporation.

The restocking that volunteers are doing ends up saving Feeding America thousands of dollars. The group says it would easily cost three times as much to buy food already boxed, rather than buying in bulk.

All the food stays here in northeast Wisconsin – and that need has only intensified because of the pandemic.

“What we see are families that own houses, but have to make the decision between purchasing prescription drugs, or buying food for their family. Or paying their electric bill, or buying food for their family. We’re here to make sure they don’t have to make that choice,” explains Wollenberg.

Feeding America Eastern Wisconsin said it is always looking for volunteers, especially at its warehouse in Appleton. You can learn more here on its website.