In 1989, a group of Oshkosh churches joined together to operate the Ecumenical Food Pantry, located in Trinity Episcopal Church on Division Street. The pantry started in a 12x25 room and grew over the years, taking up the entire church basement. Over the years, as the number of customers receiving services from the Ecumenical Pantry regularly increased, Trinity Episcopal graciously offered the more spacious basement level of the parish hall for its’ operation.
Seven churches - Trinity Episcopal, First Congregational, First United Methodist, Algoma United Methodist, Wesley United Methodist, Christ Lutheran and First Presbyterian – supported the work of the pantry through donations of volunteers, money, in-kind donations as well as their prayers.
Using a volunteer staff drawn primarily from the participating churches and relying entirely on the donations of the community, the Ecumenical Food Pantry has served a steadily increasing food-insecure population in Oshkosh, serving over 14,000 customers in 2008 making it by far the largest food pantry in the community.
The Ecumenical Food Pantry never required proof of income as requirement to receive food. All that was required was proof of Oshkosh residency & proof of the number residing in the household which then determines the amount of food distributed. Based on the size of the household customers received a pre-bagged quantity of food once per month (enough for 3-4 days).
Formation and Rationale for the Oshkosh Area Community Pantry
Social Service Agencies use the term “Food Insecurity” to describe hunger over a broad spectrum. Food insecurity can result in children and adults having to reduce the amount of food eaten, skipping meals and eating foods high in calories but low in nutritional value.
At its most extreme, our schools see the results in poor learning outcomes for those lacking proper nutrition and law enforcement sees increases in a variety of crimes.