Antigo Area Food Pantry Fills Growing Holiday Need

By: Liz Hayes Email
By: Liz Hayes Email

Thursday, many of us will be sitting down to a delicious Thanksgiving meal, but not everyone can afford to put on a feast.

Julie Yerken is a married mother of four. She has fibromyalgia - a chronic condition characterized by pain - and receives disability. Wednesday, she was one of many waiting in line outside of the Antigo Area Community Food Pantry.

"The extra help at the end of the month, it really helps. It's tremendous," she said.

The food pantry has been in downtown Antigo for the last year and a half. It's a consolidation of four smaller church food pantries, where everything is donated and everyone volunteers. Clients are able to pick the foods they want.

"It became very evident there was a great need of supplemental food based on the numbers of people visiting the four previous pantries," said Donna Ruf, one of the pantry's coordinators.

Ruf says in October the pantry served 523 households, including 397 children, and the need is steadily increasing.

The Antigo Area Community Food Pantry is open twice a month and clients often line up outside an hour before it opens in the freezing cold.

Each client gets about 30 pounds of food, depending on the size of their family. People come to the pantry for a multitude of reasons, and all of them are thankful.

"They have expressed gratitude for being able to come to the pantry, we don't question them - what their background is, what their situation is, we get hugs at the back door as they leave," Ruf said.

On Wednesday's pantry day, many families were eyeing up fixings for Thanksgiving dinner.

"I'm hoping," Yerken said. "I need some stuffing so I'm hoping they've got some stuffing and some cranberries."

She lucked out on the stuffing, missed out on the cranberries, but everything else that fills her cart is all gravy.

The Antigo Area Community Food Pantry is located at 637 Superior Street and is open every other Wednesday from 11 a.m. - 3 p.m.

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