Wednesday, October 16, 2019
Neighbor For Neighbor Food Pantry director Doug Staller showed off his Irish heritage one day in 2018 wearing a kilt after the pantry was able to meet its fundraising goal. Contributed photo

Neighbor For Neighbor pantry reaches beyond Tomah

The Neighbor For Neighbor Food Pantry is located in Tomah.

But its reach extends well beyond the city limits. Pantry director Doug Staller provided a nutshell of pantry activity for 2018 at the Tomah Lions Club meeting Feb. 27. Not only does the pantry serve as an essential food source for many families. Several improvements to the building, located at 1118 W. Veterans, helped ease storage and distribution challenges, Staller said.

A new walk-in freezer was installed with financial assistance from the Green Bay Packers community grant program and private donations. The interior of the building was revamped to help with patron flow on days when food is distributed. Staller extended thanks to Dean's Refrigeration, Cornerstone Architecture and Schroeder Construction for their efforts during the project.

New flooring as also installed. But the improvements went beyond storage and the flow of foot traffic.

Several outdoor paintings commissioned in conjunction with the New Lisbon Correctional Institution's Community Service Project are displayed on the pantry walls. The first painting arrived in March, 2018.

 Through a connection with NLCI, the pantry board learned of the service project and a New Lisbon inmate interested in donating his paintings to the pantry. One features deer in the woods, cranes, eagles, ducks and elk/bison at the base of a large mountain range.

"They really dress up the place," Staller said.

Proximity to the Wal-Mart Distribution Center makes the Tomah pantry a fortunate recipient for surplus donations. Staller said smaller pantries in Wilton, Necedah, New Lisbon, Camp Douglas and more stock shelves for families.

In one case the Tomah pantry was a resource for a pantry in Wautoma for supplies.

The pantry served over 5,000 households in 2018 distributing approximately 800,000 pounds of food.

The pantry was able to purchase a van to help with food pickups in 2018. As part of a challenge, Staller donned a Celtic kilt for one work day after their fundraising goal was met for the year.

But now a new year with new needs to meet. The pantry always accepts cash donations to meet their needs. More volunteers are always welcome.

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