NEENAH, Wis. (WFRV) During the pandemic, many people have struggled to find ways to stay fed. Now the hungry can find help inside a St. Vincent de Paul store in Neenah.
Outside St. Vincent de Paul of Neenah/Menasha a ribbon is cut, celebrating the opening of a new food pantry to serve the many needing nourishment in northern Winnebago County.
“We now ask you Lord to bless this effort so the people who need this food will feel comfortable coming here,” one man said in a prayer.
The pantry was initially started 15 years ago by St. Mary and St. John parishes, but it only served so many. So, a decision was made to relocate it here at St. Vincent de Paul after staff recognized the growing issue of food insecurity.
“We started the pantry mostly because we had so many people during the Covid stop in the store and ask for food,” said Judy Zaretzke, a board member with St. Vincent de Paul Neenah/Menasha.
“It was important for us to grow the St. Mary pantry and we knew the only place to grow it would be here,” said Andy Herson, director of St. Vincent de Paul Neenah/Menasha.
This pantry has been open for seven weeks and already they’ve served over a thousand people.
“It’s important for these people, because otherwise they have nowhere to go, they’re going to bed hungry,” Herson said.
So now twice a week, on Wednesday and Saturday, this pantry is open, offering fresh and frozen produce, eggs, milk, and cheese. Many of these items were purchased with financial donations.
“Right now, our donors have been very generous,” said Herson.
Generous just like all the staff here at St. Vincent de Paul, who are excited about opening their pantry for the community. Eager to make a difference – especially during the pandemic.
“That is our mission, that’s what we’re here for, to help the community so this has been a real integral part of that,” said Volunteer Coordinator Toni Aaron.
“The ultimate goal here is to make sure nobody goes hungry. That is the long and short of it.” Herson said.
Herson expects that come summer the number of people they serve will likely double.