September 17, 2020 – by Mike Schut, Farm Table’s Program Director

Though COVID hit just six months ago for most of us, our new reality seems so all encompassing that it often feels like years. In that time, of course, many have lost jobs and begun to feel less and less secure. Sometimes the insecurity is emotional or laden with angst about the uncertainties ahead of us–and sometimes the insecurity is very basic, connected to our needs for shelter and food.

In the early days of the pandemic, Farm Table’s restaurant pivoted its operations to emphasize, for example, curbside pickup and Take + Bake items—but the restaurant staff also turned its attention to the community, including the Amery Area Food Pantry. The pantry, like all such services, meets such basic and essential needs, especially in challenging times.

While the pantry has been able to continue to meet the needs of those challenged by food insecurity (thanks to the generosity of about 50 volunteers and myriad donors) Farm Table has been able to provide certain essentials as needed: peanut butter, almond milk, flour and corn tortillas—but especially eggs: 17 cases so far (at 15 dozen eggs per case, that comes to 3,060 eggs!).

This spring, Farm Table joined with the 175 folks who put in a Victory Garden (VG) and turned part of our parking lot into our own VG. The produce harvested from that garden has been donated to the pantry. We’ve delivered carrots, beets, zucchini (of course!), tomatoes, cucumbers, basil, cabbage, beans, broccoli, and more.

During a time when so many things have come to a halt, pantry workers know the need for food is not one of them. Pantry directors Cheryl Bowman and Peg Bavin emphasize that the pantry is seeking both monetary donations and food donation drop-offs.

The pantry, which serves those living in the Amery School District, is open on Mondays from 9:00 AM until noon and Thursdays from 3:00 until 6:00 PM. If at all possible, those seeking food are asked to call ahead (715.268.5999) to make arrangements. That way a volunteer can put together a box full of food (which typically lasts a household at least one week) and have it ready at a prearranged time. Those feeling vulnerable can wait outside in their vehicle and have the box of food delivered to them. Peg and Cheryl do not want to discourage people from coming in, but hope to be able to make the process as quick and safe as possible for everyone involved.

The directors would also like to emphasize that it’s likely more people are now eligible for food through the pantry–most anyone who has lost a job would likely qualify. Finally, emergency food boxes are available at the Amery Police Department. Individuals can also always call the pantry for food assistance. Though not always possible, in certain circumstances food can be delivered.

Thank you to those who make the Amery Food Pantry’s work possible; thank you to all who have their eyes open and respond to the needs of those around them. If interested in volunteering, or donating food or funds, please call 715-268-5999.

TO DONATE: Both food and monetary donations can be dropped off at the pantry during their open hours: Mondays from 9:00 AM until noon and Thursdays from 3:00 until 6:00 PM. Monetary donations can also be mailed to: Amery Area Food Pantry, PO Box 64, Amery, WI 54001.

Some information for this article was gleaned from April Ziemer’s piece in the April 10, 2020 edition of the Amery Free Press.