The Ozaukee Food Alliance is a non-profit organization providing warm meals, groceries, school supplies and support to families in need in Ozaukee County. The number of families served has grown tremendously since we opened our doors in 2012. In the first month of operation, the pantry helped 23 families. Today, we serve over 400 families a month and help over 750 families a year. Ozaukee Food Alliance has created a shopping experience for our families to allow them to choose the foods that work best for their family and any dietary needs they may have. Outside of the needs of the pantry we provide a free meal site, holiday meal boxes, mobile food pantries, a Back 2 School Fair and a Back Pack Fridays Program in the Port Washington / Saukville School District.
The Ozaukee Food Alliance started with a question. “Why don’t we have something like this in Saukville?” The question was raised by several young people from St. Peter’s United Church of Christ (now Parkside Community UCC) I was with on a youth mission trip to Cleveland Ohio in 2010. Two adults and twelve youth ranging from 8th to 12th grades went on their first mission trip to work in soup kitchens, food pantries and community gardens in Cleveland. The youth on the trip were inspired as well as the adults and when the question was raised the response was, why don’t we? We came back to Saukville and found there was in fact a food pantry here, located in the rectory at Immaculate Conception Catholic Church. We made a connection on ways that we might help. We helped with both their Thanksgiving and Christmas box programs and over time the pantry was moved from the church rectory to the lower level at St. Peter’s so it could be expanded. A new 501c3 was formed with a new board of directors to oversee the program and it was named the Ozaukee Food Alliance. The intent was to meet the needs of any citizen of Ozaukee County that had a food shortage in their home or for emergency food needs.
Our original board of directors was made up of members from several churches from Ozaukee County, St. Peter’s UCC, Immaculate Conception Catholic Church, River of Life Lutheran Church and First Immanuel Lutheran Church. The pantry opened its doors to the first customers on January 5th, 2012. In the first month we served a total of 20 families from a few boxes of canned goods on top of several tables. Leap forward to 2017 and we served an average of 105 families per month and a total of 314 families with 763 people that made a total of 1,776 visits to the pantry. From those visits we provided just over 49 tons of food to those families. In 2013 we began offering a back to school fair where we furnished school supplies, backpacks and shoes to hundreds of children in Ozaukee County so they could begin the school year with all the tools needed to succeed in the coming school year. We also continued the tradition from the early days at I.C. of offering special Holiday meal boxes at Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter. In 2014 we began offering a free Community Meal site once a month and added a second date in 2017 we have averaged 35 to 50 persons each time the meal site is open.
In 2015 we began a new program along with the cooperation of Feeding America offering a Mobile Food Pantry twice a year where Feeding America provides a truck full of fresh foods, dry goods and frozen foods for those in need. Since the beginning we have meet the needs of over 250 families at each of those events. Moving forward we envision an increase in services to those in need and continuing to build on the connections within our community to ensure that no one goes hungry or needs to choose between eating and meeting monthly expenses.