OSHKOSH, Wis. (WFRV) – According to Feeding America, over nine percent of people living in Winnebago County are food insecure meaning they can’t consistently afford nutritious foods for themselves and their families. 

Oshkosh Area Community Pantry is one of the places that is working hard to lower that number.

“We have reason to be proud of what we do,” says Executive Director of the Oshkosh Area Community Pantry Tom Fojtik who has held this position for 2.5 years.

“Everybody that comes here leaves happy,” says Charles Ratcliff who has been coming to the pantry for 20 years.

Between 1200 and 1300 hundred families come to the pantry each month.

Volunteers stock the shelves and help with many of the day-to-day duties. There are four full-time staff members at the pantry. They also get assistance from their partner Feeding America.

“We receive food from Feeding America we purchase it at a highly discounted rate,” says Fojtik. “We also go to local stores to purchase excess food and that’s facilitated by Feeding America.

Feeding America is a nationwide network of 200 food banks and 60,000 food pantries and meal programs.

“It (hunger) is such a deep-rooted issue in our society if people are hungry they can’t focus in school they can’t focus in work they can’t do normal life things,” says Director of Member Services Feeding America Northeast Cassie Faulks.

“This place is the greatest, I really mean it, I’m really happy and grateful that this is here,” says Ratcliff.

Those interested in helping out a local pantry or Feeding America can volunteer their time or make a money or food donation.

Fojtik says his pantry saw an uptick in clients the first month of the pandemic, but numbers have leveled off. He says the clinic has seen a significant increase in the number of people donating food since the pandemic began.