Food pantry's popularity has Trinity Lutheran Church looking - WQOW TV: Eau Claire, WI NEWS18 News, Weather, and Sports

Food pantry's popularity has Trinity Lutheran Church looking at options

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Eau Claire (WQOW) - Visits to an Eau Claire church's food pantry are growing year by year. The operation began in a small closet space in 1988. But 25 years and a different location later, Trinity Lutheran Church is wondering where to go next?

"Right now, this is the only space in our building," said Trinity Lutheran Church Rev. Jim Page.

The food pantry at Trinity Lutheran Church isn't open on Wednesday, which gives director Sharry Hebert time to restock the shelves. The pantry had over 8,000 visits last year, an 11% increase from 2012.

"They're coming from Elk Mound, Fall Creek, Chippewa Falls, Mondovi, the whole surrounding area," Hebert said.

Why so many? Hebert believes cuts to food stamp programs have lead more people to the pantry's door.

"They are down to very little money that they can get as food assistance, and so that's what's bringing more of them in," said Hebert.

There are plenty of options for visitors...

"Produce and bread, which I get from Feed My People. We also have meat and dairy," explained Hebert.

But room is one thing the church is running out of.

"If we moved a wall in this room, the moveable wall, then we'd take up all of our music room where our choirs rehearse," Page said.

That's led to discussions about creating a neutral site pantry, one possible solution.

"Churches, with Trinity, join together with other organizations in the community, such as the Community Table or what they did at Sojourner House. And have various Eau Claire organizations come together to address hunger needs in Eau Claire because the need is present and it's continuing to grow. So how do we as a community reach out together," Page said.

Food for the pantry is bought primarily through feed my people using donations from the church's congregation. Students from UW-Eau Claire are helping Trinity Lutheran. They're doing a study to look at possible sites for a new pantry, and plan to present their findings this spring.

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