By Kathy DeMott
Twelve Baskets Food Pantry has been “Stomping Out Hunger” in South County by providing free food, including fresh fruit, vegetables, meat and nonperishable items, since 2013. It began at Lake Center Church as a free food backpack program for undernourished children in Lake Center Schools.
As the needs grew, Twelve Basket Food Pantry became a 100% volunteer based nonprofit organization and moved to 10332 Portage Road in June 2014. it served 19 families twice a month which increased to 100 families four times a month by 2019. With the onset of COVID-19, it now serves approximately 200 families weekly. Distribution is the first and third Friday and the second and fourth Saturday of each month. Anyone in need is welcome.
Board member and President Bill Steger says that “God provides all the food and volunteers.”
He explained that food and personal care times are appreciated. Monetary donations help it stretch dollars farther by purchasing essentials in bulk from Feeding America. Local farms, such as Corey Lake Orchard, Wiley Farms, Husted’s Apple Orchard and Walter’s Farm, provide fresh produce. Additional support comes from Meijer on Shaver Road, SpartanNash stores and Perrigo. Various businesses, individuals, farms, and churches also support the pantry.
Many volunteers are past or current clients of Twelve Baskets. Deb Papke has been volunteering for almost two years. She wanted to show her appreciation and give back for the help she received.
“It’s a great way to meet people and we all get enjoyment out of volunteering here,” she said. It also works with local high schools, businesses, and court ordered volunteers, many who return over and over. The pantry provides help, hope, and often a sense of community.
Romona Czuk, a board member and fundraising coordinator, volunteers because she experienced hunger growing up in a large family. “It was the kindness of the community that helped our family and I want to help those with similar needs.” The generosity of the surrounding areas has helped meet a goal of “filling 12 baskets” which means support in four ways; the food pantry, the new free store for clothing and household items, supplying other pantries with extra commodities, and providing a supportive place for those who want or need to volunteer. The Board is currently seeking new members with business or legal experience.
Thankful for all the generous support provided, the ongoing need of those experiencing hunger continues to grow. Twelve Baskets currently has a capital campaign fundraiser to purchase the adjacent property and buildings. A commercial kitchen will expand availability of fresh foods.
Ray and Sherri Jeschke manage the new Free Store and already require more space.
Other ongoing fundraising projects are Meijer Holiday Simply Give at the Shaver Road Portage location, SpartanNash card and labels and Amazon Smile.
To donate, serve, receive help or become a board member, visit the website, http://www.twelve-baskets.org, or call 269-532-4912 for more information. Follow on Facebook for news, pictures, and updates for Twelve Baskets Food Pantry.
By Kathy DeMott