Pantry Serves as a Destination for Partnerships
With the logistical challenges of operating a food pantry during the height of a pandemic behind us, the Jewish Community Pantry has been able to get back to doing something we love – working collaboratively with community partners to address community needs in new and meaningful ways.
Here are some highlights from collaborative projects we’ve participated in over the past year:
Metcalfe Park Painted/Mural at 29th and Center Street
Last summer, the Jewish Community Pantry team and partners at Metcalfe Park Community Bridges, Imagine MKE, and Artists Working in Education began a collaborative project with residents of the Metcalfe Park neighborhood. “We handed out ‘vision booklets’ that asked residents to describe the beauty they see in the neighborhood and what kind of imagery they’d like to see depicted on a mural,” said Pantry Director Heidi Gould. “At the same time, our friends at Imagine MKE and Artists Working in Education helped recruit Milwaukee artist LaNia Sproles as our lead artist for the project.”
Residents and Pantry volunteers helped paint the base of the mural and later during a Paint and Sip event, residents returned to put the finishing touches on the project. Additionally, Artists Working in Education worked with more than 60 children and adults to create their own canvases during the event. “The project was a true labor of love for the Metcalfe Park and Pantry community,” says Gould.
Milwaukee Diaper Mission
When the Milwaukee Diaper Mission (MDM) launched in September 2020, they named the Jewish Community Pantry as one of their five inaugural partners. MDM has provided the Pantry with a free, monthly supply of diapers, baby wipes, diaper cream, and period supply kits for Pantry clients. “The goal of our partnership is to support MDM in their growth as Milwaukee’s first diaper bank and provide more Metcalfe Park and Amani neighborhood babies and toddlers with a free supply of diapers and wipes,” says Gould. “As a mom of three young children, it’s challenging to look at the statistics of diaper need in Milwaukee without feeling compelled to act.”
In February 2022, Gan Ami Early Childhood Education hosted a diaper drive to support the Milwaukee Diaper Mission for two weeks. “It was our turn to help our incredible partners,” said Gould. Collection bins were placed at both Gan Ami sties in Whitefish Bay and Mequon, as well as by the Peck entrance of the Harry & Rose Samson Family JCC. In the end, the JCC collected 7,700 diapers, 940 tampons, 500 pads, and 332 packs of baby wipes.
Family Service Day
At the end of March 2022, the Jewish Community Pantry hosted the first annual Family Service Day. “Our aim was to serve families of young children who use the Pantry in a meaningful way,” says Gould. Milwaukee Diaper Mission provided over 5,000 diapers and wipes to the community while the Office of Early Childhood Initiatives from Milwaukee County distributed over 200 board books.
With the help of the Pantry’s generous community donors, the Pantry was able to purchase 40 brand-new infant and toddler car seats. North Shore Health Department and the Milwaukee Police Department sent certified car seat installers to help families.
The Jewish Community Pantry is generously supported by the Emergency Pantry Network of the Hunger Task Force, a provider of free and local food. Hunger Task Force provides our agency with food, equipment, supplies, and training to supply Milwaukeeans with Emergency Food. Additionally, our programs, collaborative work, and operations are funded by the generous support of the Northwestern Mutual Foundation.
Click here to read more stories of impact from the 2021-22 Annual Report.