Ask Pete French, director and chief operating officer of the Prescott (Wis.) Area Food Pantry, what he’s most worried about in his community, and he has an almost immediate answer. “In the last five years, visits to our food pantry by seniors have increased 100 percent,” he says. “Unlike in the past, we are reaching out more and more to people on fixed incomes.”
Pete and his all-volunteer staff speak at community meetings, church gatherings and local businesses to raise awareness about hunger in the community—a problem that affects not only seniors but also families with children. The Prescott Area Food pantry grew from a church-supported initiative in this small western Wisconsin community to a self-sustaining organization that serves more than 150 families in the Prescott School District.
Every week, Pete, who retired from 29 years in a corporate career in the Twin Cities, brings a few volunteers on a trip to the Second Harvest Heartland warehouse to pick up food. Each visit saves their organization the delivery charge and enables them to meet their colleagues at the Second Harvest Heartland warehouse. One recent visit to Second Harvest found Pete and two volunteers loading canned goods, cereal and bread into the back of a pickup truck.
Between visits and deliveries from Second Harvest, as well as donations from local stores and fresh produce from a nearby community garden, Pete notes that the food pantry offers clients a good variety of food —and they appreciate it. “At some time in your life, you may wonder where your next meal is coming from,” he says. “That’s what we’re here for.”