Food Pantry in West Bend 
strains with demand

By MITCH MAERSCH - GM Today Staff 

December 19, 2008

Full Shelf Food Pantry 20-year volunteer George Fassbinder stocks shelves at the West Bend facility on Municipal Drive. In October, the pantry saw a 20 percent increase in clients over last October due to the down economy.

WEST BEND - The Full Shelf Food Pantry in West Bend was holding steady in early fall. It hadnít yet seen the major impact of the recession.

Then came October.

"We had a 20-percent jump (over last October)," said Lynn Ehren, corporate board member, buyer and co-founder of the 26-year-old, all-volunteer pantry.

Full Shelf serves all of Washington County and is up to 480 to 500 primary visits per month. Primary visits allow clients once a month to pick up meat, canned fruit and vegetables, soups and other staples determined years ago with the help of a dietitian. The pantry sets limits, like three pounds of meat per person per month.




"The average three-person family is going to walk out of here with 200 pounds of food. Thatís a lot of food," Ehren said.

Operating Manager and co-founder Larry Ehren, Lynnís husband, said the better gauge of the economy is the number of secondary visits, not included in those 200 pounds. Secondary visits are unlimited and have been on the rise for months.

"That was kind of the indicator to us that things arenít as good as they used to be," he said.

To donate

Full Shelf Food Pantry is at 231 Municipal Drive, West Bend. It accepts donations Monday through Friday from 6:30 to 10:30 a.m., except for holidays and when the West Bend School District cancels school.

Homemade pies, jams and other homemade items are not accepted, nor are deer, due to legal liability. The pantry uses commercial outlets contracted with the government to provide venison.

Cash is always welcome, and it might not go toward food. The pantry pays for its own phone, light, heat, landscaping, and upkeep of its van and forklift.

Donors may sign a book and receive a thank-you note.

For more information, call the pantry at 335-0685.

Pickup times

Pantry clients may pick up food from 4:15 to 5:30 p.m. If they work or are ill, they may designate someone else to pick up their food.

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This story appeared in The Daily News on December 19, 2008.