Hunger on the Rise: Pantry Serves 2,319 Individuals in May

Janice and Chris Clemens sort donations at Hope Center Pantry
Hope Center Pantry Directors Chris and Janice Clemens
Photo by Timothy Mayer Artworks

Just when we thought our number of clients coming to Hope Center Pantry reached a high, the month of May 2023 really surprised us. We served 593 clients for a total of 2,319 family members! Compare this to our January 2023 outreach to 471 clients and 1,774 family members. Hunger is on the rise in Green Bay, Wisconsin!

Reduction in Food Shares/Food Stamps

Our clients tell us time and time again how much they appreciate the assistance they receive from the Hope Center Pantry. The food donations we provide allow them to feed their family nutritious meals. They are definitely feeling the recent reduction in their Food Shares/Food Stamps monies.

Thanks to Hope Center Pantry Volunteers

We are so grateful to have dedicated volunteers that show up day after day with such eagerness and understanding to give our clients a helping hand. Contact us to donate, volunteer, or request food assistance. Hope Center Pantry is open from 1-3pm Monday through Thursday at 505 Clinton St. Green Bay. Additionally, military veterans and active-duty personnel can pick up free food from 3-5pm on the second and third Tuesdays of the month.

2 Champions of the Poor: Hope Center Pantry & St. Vincent de Paul

A toy garage built from a box that contained food delivered by St. Vincent de Paul volunteer.

Give a boy a box, and his imagination will do the rest! We’d like to share this heartwarming story of two charitable organizations working hand-in-hand to make a difference in the life of a family in Green Bay, Wisconsin.

St. Vincent DePaul Answers the Call

Several volunteers at Hope Center Pantry also volunteer at St. Vincent de Paul (SVDP), Green Bay, Wisconsin. Recently, a SVDP volunteer took a call from a mother with two children. She was between jobs, her car broke down, she received an eviction notice, and her family was low on food. That’s a lot for anyone to handle.

Free Food from Hope Center Pantry

The St. Vincent de Paul volunteer scheduled to meet with her the following day for a full assessment, but it was obvious that she needed free food, immediately. It was 2:45pm on a Thursday (Hope Center Pantry closes at 3pm), and the SVDP volunteer offered to get her some food from Hope Center Pantry to help the mother and her children through the weekend. Hope Center Pantry volunteers promptly delivered a box of food to the family, and the mother was quietly surprised at the generous amount of food. Her little boy carried the gallon of milk into the apartment and came back to help some more. His eyes lit up when he saw the pizza and juice. The volunteer smiled and said she hoped they would enjoy it. He enthusiastically responded, “I’m going to enjoy ALL of it!”

St. Vincent de Paul In-Home Visit

When the St. Vincent de Paul in-home visit team went to the family’s apartment the next morning, the mother was making omelets with the eggs from the pantry. That was wonderful to see, but that’s not all that made the SVDP team happy. They noticed that the boy made a play garage for his toy cars from the Hope Center Pantry food box. Together, St. Vincent DePaul and Hope Center Pantry gave this mother and her son some much-needed support in a difficult time. What a blessing to spread a little bit of hope by helping others.

Help Others by Volunteering at Hope Center Pantry

Want to make a difference in the community by helping others as a Hope Center Pantry volunteer? Contact us about volunteer opportunities or to schedule a visit to the pantry to experience volunteerism first-hand. The pantry is open 1-3pm Monday through Thursday at 505 Clinton St. Green Bay. Read the How We You Help information to learn more. Volunteers provide an essential service to those in need in the Green Bay, Wisconsin, area. Thank you to all of the volunteers at St. Vincent de Paul and Hope Center Pantry.

Letter Carriers Food Drive Yields 6,000 Pounds of Food for the Hungry

volunteers at Hope Center Pantry sort donations from the Letter Carrier Food Drive

After a three-year hiatus because of COVID-19, the Letter Carriers Food Drive returned on May 13, 2023, to Brown County, Wisconsin. Green Bay-area residents were encouraged to leave a bag of food by their mailbox to help fight hunger.

Food Drive Collects 6,000 Pounds of Nonperishables

As a result of the Letter Carriers Food Drive, Hope Center Pantry received 10 totes of food, totaling about 6,000 pounds. What a busy day for letter carriers and pantry volunteers! Some Hope Center Pantry volunteers drove the mail carrier routes to collect the food donations. Other volunteers unloaded the nonperishable food at the Post Office and loaded it into totes. Many other volunteers sorted and stored the food at the pantry. What a tremendous effort by so many dedicated pantry volunteers.

Largest One-Day Food Drive in the Country

This food drive is sponsored by the National Association of Letter Carriers and is the largest one-day food drive in the country. Letter carriers give back to the community by collecting millions of pounds of food, all which stays in the area where it was collected. The 2023 food drive was the 31st event.

Organize a Food Drive at Your School or Business

Thanks to the National Association of Letter Carriers for helping address food insecurity in Brown County, Wisconsin, by organizing the Letter Carriers Food Drive. Hope Center Pantry was honored to receive and distribute the donated food to pantry clients. If your school, business, or nonprofit is interested in organizing a food drive or collection drive for Hope Center Pantry, please contact us. Help us serve and guide those who are in need in the Green Bay area.

Hope Center Pantry Opens Late for Veterans & Active Military

man in a military uniform to represent extended food pantry hours for veterans

Starting in May 2023, Hope Center Pantry, Green Bay, Wisconsin, extended its pantry hours to specifically serve military veterans. Military veterans and active-duty personnel can visit Hope Center Pantry to pick up free food from 3-5pm on the second and third Tuesdays of the month. Volunteers, who are veterans also, serve their fellow veterans during these extended food pantry hours. Hope Center Pantry is located at 505 Clinton Street on the West Side of Green Bay, Wisconsin.

Hunger Impacts Lives of Military Veterans

Hunger affects many military veterans and their families every day. According to Feeding America, 1 in 9 working-age veterans live in a food insecure household, and 24 percent of active-duty service members were food insecure in 2020. Hope Center Pantry is doing something about it, by extending pantry hours and staffing the pantry with military veterans’ needs in mind.

Extended Pantry Hours to Feed Hungry Veterans

Hope Center Pantry is giving back to veterans and active military members who serve our country now or in the past. The extended food pantry hours for veterans are designed to help military families make ends meet. If you or someone you know is active military or a military veteran in need of food assistance, visit Hope Center Pantry for free food during regular pantry hours or the military-only hours.

Veterans Encouraged to Volunteer at Food Pantry

Additionally, if you’re a military veteran looking to give back to the community and other veterans, consider becoming a food pantry volunteer. Contact us about volunteer opportunities or to schedule a visit to the pantry to experience volunteerism first-hand. The pantry is open 1-3pm Monday through Thursday at 505 Clinton St. Green Bay. Read the How Can We Help information to learn more. Volunteers provide an essential service to those in need in Green Bay, Wisconsin, including active military and veterans.

Hunger is a Problem: Matching Gifts Are Part of the Solution

photo of volunteers of all ages to represent corporate matching gift programs

Financial donations play a huge part in the Hope Center Pantry’s ability to run day-to-day operations. When the pantry receives monetary donations, pantry volunteers have the flexibility to purchase items that clients need the most. Typically, the greatest needs are food and personal hygiene items. The Hope Center Pantry takes pride in giving high-quality items to clients, who truly appreciate the free food and other items. Monetary donations allow the pantry to improve the lives of so many people in Brown County, Wisconsin.

Corporate Matching Gifts Programs

Some corporations make matching gifts to support their employees’ charitable causes. Does your company match your charitable donations? If the answer is yes, please consider donating to Hope Center Pantry. The pantry contributes to the food security of over 400 households each month, representing over 1,500 family members.

Cost to Fill a Box for a Family in Green Bay

When determining the size of a monetary donation to give Hope Center Pantry, consider how many families you will be feeding. Hope Center Pantry fills boxes of different sizes, based on the size of the client’s family. The cost to fill each box varies, but the approximate costs are:

  • X-Large family – $53.48
  • Large family – $45.10
  • Small family – $32.65
  • Single family – $21.61

Tax-Deductible Charitable Donations

We encourage individuals who work at a company-match corporation to donate to Hope Center Pantry. We will be happy to provide a tax receipt to give to employers as proof of the donation. Hope Center Pantry mails tax receipts for all donations over $250. For charitable donations less than $250, Hope Center Pantry will send a tax receipt upon request. Donors can email to request a tax receipt. Please include the check number and date of the check in the email.

Feeding the Hungry of Brown County

The need for food assistance in Brown County, Wisconsin, is high. In January 2023, Hope Center Pantry served 471 clients – representing a total of 1,774 family members. In a community where hunger is a real problem, donors and matching-gift corporations like you are part of the solution. Thank you for your generosity.

Pantry Offers High School Community Service Opportunities

Bayport High School students earn community service hours at Hope Center Pantry

Students who volunteer at nonprofits like Hope Center Pantry aren’t just helping others. They’re helping themselves! Student volunteers learn valuable skills like accountability, responsibility, and punctuality. They have opportunities to engage with others, some who are much different than themselves. Plus, they gain the satisfaction of personally making an impact on the community.

Earning Community Service Hours

The pantry relies on volunteers to operate, so even short-term volunteerism is appreciated. That’s why Hope Center Pantry was excited to have two Bay Port High School students, Ellie and Olivia, perform community service at the Pantry. Pantry leaders found creative ways to engage these high school students, because the students are in school when the Pantry is open. Pantry hours are 1-3pm Monday-Thursday, and pantry is located on the West Side of Green Bay at 505 Clinton St.

Volunteering Enthusiastically

Ellie and Olivia helped gather and pack the meal kit ingredients for Jackson Elementary and also assembled homemade thank you cards. They were such a huge help, and their enthusiasm is contagious!

Seeking High School Volunteers

f you are a high school student or parent of a high school student who needs community service hours before graduation, please consider volunteering at Hope Center Pantry. Contact us. Let the Hope Center Pantry know:

  • Your availability – we have after-hours projects
  • Your skills and interests
  • What will make your volunteer experience more enjoyable
  • Number of community service hours you need

Contact the Pantry to Volunteer

Since Hope Center Pantry is a nonprofit organization, schools and other organization requiring community service honor pantry volunteer hours. We’re happy to sign your community service form. High school students, contact us today for community service hours at Hope Center Pantry, Green Bay.

What a Joy to See! Gift Bags Bring Extra Smiles

Gift bag from Feeding America given to clients.
Gift bag from Feeding America given to clients.

Volunteering at Hope Center Pantry is so rewarding, but a couple of experiences really make volunteering worthwhile. We wish everyone could experience the joy that a Christmas-time gift bag brought to our female clients. In December 2021 we gave 45 gift bags to our female clients. These were nicely boxed gift sets of pump body lotion and soap that we received for free from Feeding America. The clients were so appreciative that it really made us feel good about the work we do at the pantry.

Christmas & Birthday Gift Bags

Christmas only comes once a year, and the same goes for birthdays. You should see a child’s face light up when they see a birthday bag included with their family’s food. It’s priceless! Two Green Bay soccer teams made it possible. The high school girls’ soccer teams kicked it up a notch with their Hope Center Pantry donation! Girls from the Notre Dame Academy and Southwest High School girls’ soccer teams filled 101 birthday bags and donated them to Hope Center Pantry.

Birthday gift bags donated to Hope Center Pantry from high school soccer teams.
Birthday gift bags donated to Hope Center Pantry from high school soccer teams.

101 Cake Mixes, Frosting, Candles & Gifts

Each bag contained a cake mix, frosting, candles and an age-appropriate gift. Panty volunteers distribute the birthday gift bags to families with children age 10 and under for their birthday month. The clients were thrilled to have these items to make their child’s birthday feel more special.

Making Birthdays Extra Special

As a nice addition to the birthday bags, Hope Center Pantry gives each child a Beanie Baby. A generous pantry supporter donated a bunch of Beanie Babies to the pantry. When volunteers grab a gift bag for a child, they also grab one of these Beanie Babies to add to the bag. It makes their birthday extra special!

St. Patrick’s Food Pantry Marks 25 Years: Good Service with a Smile

Originally Published in The Compass

By Jeff Kurowski

Janice and Chris Clemens are directors of St. Patrick's Food Pantry, now called Hope Center Pantry
Photo by Sam Lucero | The Compass

Janice Clemens said she believes that “God was at work” in her invitation to become co-director of St. Patrick’s Food Pantry, along with her husband, Chris.

“I volunteered here first,” said Janice. “When Donna (Kessler, former longtime pantry director who followed Franciscan Sr. Louise Hunt) thought about retiring, she said that she remembered that she heard me say that I wanted to focus on one volunteer item. I’m almost 100% sure that I said that I wanted to do a variety of things. I think she saw Chris and I as a couple (for the position). Donna did a great job and left us in a pretty good situation.”

Spending Their Retirement Years Volunteering

Janice started as a volunteer at the pantry in September 2019, following retirement. Chris joined her a year later, after he retired. “We hadn’t even been managers. We have managers on each shift each day. We went right from volunteers to directors,” said Chris with a laugh.

20-Year Run at St. Patrick’s Church, Green Bay

Janice and Chris, members of Nativity of Our Lord Parish, Ashwaubenon, are now the Tuesday managers, in addition to serving as directors. The pantry, housed in the Hope Center at 505 Clinton St. in Green Bay, is open for clients from 1 to 3 p.m. Monday through Thursday. This year marks 25 years of providing food for those in need. The first 20 years, the pantry operated in the basement of St. Patrick Church. The Hope Center, a collaboration of the west side Green Bay parishes, opened in 2016. The building is also the west side home for Love Life, which provides basic infant needs to low-income families.

Open to Brown County WI Residents

St. Patrick’s Food Pantry, which is open to anyone living in Brown County, currently only offers curbside pickup in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Premade boxes are packed, based on the family size. Clients may request extra items. Four volunteers work each shift, except for Tuesdays when a fifth volunteer does data entry.

Pantry Directors Automated Operations

Both Janice and Chris have IT (information technology) backgrounds, so they’ve automated most data, including client information, volunteer schedules and packing lists.

“If they’ve been here before, we’ve got them in the database already,” said Janice. “We just pull their sheet out. We know about their household, how many live there. We take their order for the day. If they are new, we fill out a sheet for them.”

Chris has implemented a color coordinated system for food sorting. All boxes are dated. Different color labels allow volunteers to recognize which items need to be rotated to the shelves for distribution first.

Catholic Parishes Support Pantry

The pantry receives monetary donations made through the Quad Parishes on the west side of Green Bay. Parishes also provide support through food collections — designated boxes for donations or through “reverse collections” where parish members receive a slip of paper with a specific food item and donate that item the following weekend.

“St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Parish (Green Bay) does (a reverse collection) once a month,” said Janice. “It’s great because then we get exactly what we need.” A list of the most needed items is shared with the parishes and provided on the website.

Donations of Hygiene, Paper & Cleaning Products

“The surprising thing is we are a food pantry, but there is a need for hygiene and cleaning products,” said Janice. “Most people on FoodShare can’t use those for body wash or shampoo.”
Toilet paper is provided to clients through donations from Bedford Paper of De Pere.

Brown County Food and Hunger Network

St. Patrick’s is part of the Brown County Food and Hunger Network. The number of client visits at all food pantries in Wisconsin has decreased during the pandemic, said Janice. Stimulus funds may be the reason for the drop in client visits, she added. The highest number in recent months at St. Patrick’s was August with 146 clients served.

Feeding Children in Green Bay Schools

In response to fewer numbers, St. Patrick’s Food Pantry extends its outreach into the community. They have connected with the Green Bay Area Public School District. School counselors put pantry flyers in backpacks of children whose families may need food assistance. They also partner with Jackson Elementary School in Green Bay.

“Once a month we are piloting a program with Jackson,” said Janice. “The school counselor started a mini-pantry. At the direction of the (Hope Center) board, this is another way we can use the monetary donations to help the community, especially with our client counts being down.

“We are trying to build family meal time,” she said. “We come up with a theme and do food kits. We will have a recipe and they will put it together. We provide it in English and Spanish. This month, we are going to do something with ham. We did 27 kits in our highest month. Nineteen was our lowest. In that kit, there is also a flyer for our pantry.”

Meals for the Homeless Shelter

A partnership with St. John the Evangelist Homeless Shelter is also in the works. Janice has volunteered at the shelter and recognized the need for to-go meals for shelter guests who have jobs.

For the clients who visit the pantry during the week, some recent changes have been made for their convenience. Milk no longer fills the cooler shelves. Milk vouchers are given to clients which they can use at Save A Lot.

“We have people walking up pulling a suitcase behind and people on bikes,” said Janice. “We reached out to all the 5k and 10k races in Brown County. They gave us some really nice shoulder bags that they can put on their back on their bike.”

A Need for More Volunteers

“What we really need is more new volunteers,” said Chris, “If someone is interested, they can go to the website or stop in.” The pantry has a pool of about 70 volunteers, including eight managers, but will lose some snowbirds during the winter months. In addition to those who serve at the pantry site, two men pick up orders from Feeding America, the pantry’s source for meat. Another man picks up all the boxes for recycling. Two Bay Port students recently became the first high school community service volunteers at St. Patrick’s. The girls make thank-you cards for handwritten messages to donors and help put together spice packets for the meal kits.

Janice said that many of the longtime pantry volunteers continue to be a good resource. “They tell us if we are doing something wrong, and we need that,” she said with a smile.

The Rewards of Being a Pantry Volunteer

The rewards of helping people make the work worth it, said Chris.

“Just seeing the smiles on people’s faces out there, lights you up,” he said. “Everybody is just so grateful to get the food. We put a cart with Thanksgiving items out. They take what they need. They don’t grab everything. Everybody is respectful.”

“We want to be an elite pantry, good service with a smile,” added Janice. “If it’s been donated to us, we’re going to get it to the clients who need it. Any of us could be in that situation. God will provide. He has so far.”

Family Meal: We Help Parents Who Struggle to Feed Their Kids

Ingredients for Pizza Mac and Cheese, a meal kit that Hope Center Pantry provides once a month
The Hope Center Pantry provides meal kits and recipes to families once a month, like this Pizza Mac and Cheese meal kit.

With such an abundance of food in the U.S. today, no child should go hungry. Yet 34 million people in the U.S. are food insecure, including 9 million children, according the Feeing America. Hope Center Pantry is doing something about these troubling statistics by preparing family meal kits.

Social Benefits of a Family Meal

Today’s families are busy, no doubt! Preparing and eating family meals together takes time and effort. But the benefits of regularly gathering around the table for a family meal are worth the effort. 7 Science-Based Benefits of Eating Together as a Family. Families who prepare and eat a meal together benefit from the social interaction of a shared meal. Research shows that having the family involved in meal preparation increases fruit and vegetable intake. In addition, family meals provide a sense of togetherness and security that helps nurture children into well-rounded, healthy adults. Family dinners have a positive impact on children’s personal identity, self-esteem, values, and motivation.

Meal Kits for Green Bay Families

Hope Center Pantry is a Christian-based nonprofit ministry that strongly encourages family time and family meals. The pantry partners with Annie Jackson Elementary in Green Bay to provide the ingredients for a full, nutritious meal families in need. Starting in September 2021, and throughout the 2022-23 school year, the pantry created “meal kits” for a family of four. These meal kits are orchestrated through their school counselor who has a team of 50 students that help pack and distribute the meals once a month. Additionally, the school has a mini pantry available called Hunger Heroes.

Food & Recipes for Hungry Kids

The families pre-register for the meal, and they receive meal recipes in both English and Spanish. The pantry includes an English/Spanish flyer with each meal kit, so families know about the pantry’s location and services. One month, the pantry provided 33 meals – enough food to feed 132 parents and children at a family meal. Pizza Mac and Cheese is one example of a meal kit, with all ingredients provided.

Collaborating with Green Bay School Counselors

To spread the word Hope Center Pantry, we contacted school counselors in the Green Bay School District, sharing information about our pantry and other food pantries in Brown County. We encouraged the counselors to send information home with students whose families have a need for our services.
One of the school counselors from Eisenhower Elementary in Green Bay stops by Hope Center Pantry periodically to pick up food to give families with children in the school. The children’s parents don’t have cars to travel to the pantry, so the counselor cheerfully delivers their food right to their door!

Panty Serves Families with Children

Together, we are serving families and children in need in the Green Bay community. Children who have enough to eat perform better at school and have a better chance of growing into healthy teens and adults. We’re grateful to everyone who volunteers, donates, and advocates for Hope Center Pantry, to feed kids and families who are hungry. Contact us to learn more about the ways you can contribute to our mission.

Be Prepared: Boy Scouts Collect Nonperishable Food Every April

The Boy Scout motto, “Be Prepared,” takes on a new meaning every spring when the scouts gift our pantry with multiple pallets of nonperishable food. Three pallets were donated in 2022! Four pallets were donated in 2023! With hundreds of pounds of nonperishable food, the panty will “Be Prepared” to feed hundreds of children, adults, and families who are hungry. The pantry storage room at Hope Center Pantry, 505 Clinton St., Green Bay, is well-stocked every April after Scouting for Food.

boxes of food collected by Scouting for Food in April to fill Hope Center Pantry shelves
Boy Scouts of the Bay-Lakes Council run Scouting for Food in April to collect nonperishable food door-to-door. They help fill Hope Center Pantry’s shelves.

Green Bay Boy Scouts Food Drive

Scouting for Food has been a Scouting tradition in the Boy Scouts Bay-Lakes Council for 35 years. Here’s how Scouting for Food works. On a Saturday in mid-April, Boy Scouts distribute door hangers in their neighborhoods announcing a food drive for nonperishables. Then, a week later, the Scouts return to these homes and pick up food donations that people leave by their front door. The food is then distributed to local food banks and pantries, like Hope Center Pantry on the West Side of Green Bay. Scouting for Food is a remarkable community service project making a healthy difference for those in need.

Well-Stocked with Nonperishable Food

Hope Center Pantry, Green Bay, is so appreciative of this door-to-door food drive every year. When the pantry is well-stocked with nonperishable foods, the pantry directors don’t need to use donated funds to purchase these food items. Instead, monetary donations can be allocated elsewhere to help those in need.

Thanks to All Involved in Scouting for Food

Thanks to all the Boy Scouts, Scout leaders and their families for participating in Scouting for Food. Also, thanks to the Hope Center Pantry volunteers who sort the pallets of food the pantry receives. With enough volunteers, we can sort the nonperishable food donations in record time!