This week on Fifteen Minutes with Fuzz, I sit down with Kristin Marx of the Kewaskum Community Pantry. Kristin gives us an inside look at our local food pantry and how it serves families in need in the Kewaskum area. She discusses the services the pantry provides, its history, the volunteers who keep it running, and the incredible community support that helps feed more than 25 local families each month.
If you want to reach out to the pantry, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Fuzz Martin 0:00
Hey what up fam? It's me Fuzz Martin and this is my podcast the show about positive things happening in and around Washington County, Wisconsin, and you look in the mirror. You're an awesome person. Thank you for listening. School is back in session. Before you know it, the holidays will be here. In fact, less than three months from now, it'll be Christmas friends. While the needs of families don't change just because of the season, it is a good time to reflect and think about how you can help out. This week. Kristin Marx joins me to talk about Kewaskum's food pantry Kewaskum Community Pantry. Kristin talks about how the organization got started, what kind of donations they need and how you can get involved. It's a great organization that helps provide for those who need it most in our community. And with that, here are 15 minutes on the Kewaskum community pantry with Kristin Marx on Fifteen Minutes with Fuzz.
Fuzz Martin 1:17
Kristin, thank you for coming in. And joining me today on 15 minutes with fuzz can you give us a little bit of the history of the Kewaskum food pantry and how it serves our community?
Kristin Marx 1:27
Sure. The Kewaskum Food Pantry started in December of 2009 by Tom and Barb Connor and Sandy and Amel Radetzky. And it started in a closet.
Fuzz Martin 1:38
The pantry itself actually was a pantry. It certainly started in a closet,
Kristin Marx 1:43
they had to go up and down the stairs and into basically a crawlspace. And they would keep the lighter things on top and the heavier things on the bottom, obviously, because it up and down so much. Barb always jokes that that was the most in shape she's been.
Fuzz Martin 1:57
So before that was there. There wasn't a pantry and Kewaskum and all
Kristin Marx 2:01
know they started it and they felt a need for it. And
Fuzz Martin 2:05
was the community served by like just other local communities then at that point, right. Yeah. Obviously the need was there some people who really cared enough, put it all together. Now you've been serving the community since 2009. How many families would you say rely the Kewaskum community pantry for food assistance on a regular basis?
Kristin Marx 2:29
Well, I can tell you last week, we had a record number of 27 families, which is pretty high. I think when it first started it was under 20. And then it's typically between 20 and 25 families per week. But you know, as prices go up, there's a bigger need and kids are back in school.
Fuzz Martin 2:45
And so that's obviously if that's a record number that's been going up over the years, and that average has gone up?
Kristin Marx 2:51
I would say so. Yeah. I mean, we've definitely noticed an increase in the last couple of years.
Fuzz Martin 2:55
Obviously, there's all sorts of different things that people donate. And there's the things that people think they need to donate. And then there's things that maybe people don't need to know donate. But what are for the Kewaskum community pantry, what are some of the most needed food donations for families right now?
Kristin Marx 3:12
Well, we keep doing air quotes here, we do a top 10 list on our Facebook page. That's where you can find us. It's more than 10 items. It's items we're constantly in need of but basically we're looking for anything right now our shelves are really low. Our back stock is almost non existent. Like frozen lasagna has frozen dinners, beans, ramen, macaroni and cheese juice.
Fuzz Martin 3:36
So you do take frozen items.
Kristin Marx 3:37
We do. We don't have a ton of space, but we do accept frozen items. We accept most anything as long as it's not expired. Okay? And we cannot accept homemade items, homemade canned items, you know, things like that if people process their own deer meat, we can't accept them either. We just don't know how
Fuzz Martin 3:55
it's processed. Sure, that kind of chain of custody with making sure that it's sealed.
Kristin Marx 3:58
In fact, you have to be careful, we can accept wild game if it's done by a professional and it's stamped
Fuzz Martin 4:03
you said you need everything. But are there certain specific items that you need more of at any given time? Like the what like some hot items that are staples that people made?
Kristin Marx 4:13
Sure like rice rice is always good rice insides? Hamburger Helper. It's, it sounds silly, but I mean, we just we need things to feed people. We try to do healthy things but times it's just we need something. Hamburger Helper, Rice a Roni, those types of sides instant potatoes, beans,
Fuzz Martin 4:32
you had mentioned, you know dear meat and homemade items. Are there any other sorts of donations that you specifically cannot accept or won't take?
Kristin Marx 4:41
Typically just those and as if they're expired, we cannot accept them. That's really the only limitations.
Fuzz Martin 4:47
So if a family you know needs to pick up food, when is that pantry open?
Kristin Marx 4:53
Our hours are Tuesdays and Thursdays from 415 until six and if the Kewaskum School District closes for inclement Whether we close to there have been case by case basis where, where people needed food. Sure, and they can't make it. So we look at that at a case by case basis.
Fuzz Martin 5:12
Do you have times of the year that are busier than others at the pantry?
Kristin Marx 5:17
Donations tend to slow down in the summer months, I think just because everybody is so busy. But so that's why things are low right now. And now going into holiday season, we've got Ames fitness right here in West Bend. I believe she's off of Newark drive. Okay, she is fantastic. And actually, I just looked up the post, she did 50/50 Thanksgiving packages for us last year. So that's pretty amazing. She is a huge supporter of the Kewaskum food pantry.
Fuzz Martin 5:47
Right. And so she collected donations and put those together at Ames fitness.
Kristin Marx 5:52
And she Yes, she gets her clients and reaches out to her network of people. And she works really hard. And if they don't get to the store to purchase the item, she'll take a monetary donation, and she will do the legwork for the people.
Fuzz Martin 6:03
Awesome. And you were you had been saying that Laatsch's Piggly Wiggly and Aaron latch in Kewaskum. There have been big supporters as well. Right? Absolutely.
Kristin Marx 6:11
They do a round up program. And it's been extremely generous. Our community
Fuzz Martin 6:16
is amazing. And there's the barrel there too, that you can donate food to right.
Kristin Marx 6:20
Yep, you sure can. Yeah.
Fuzz Martin 6:21
So each week, our family will put in, you know, a few things here and there. And so I think it's important that a strong community makes sure we're taking care of the those that need it the most. Right? Absolutely. As you come into the holidays, do you see an uptick? Or is it like after school starts in such Do you see an uptick in need for that, or
Kristin Marx 6:40
there's a need year round? But you know, like I said it going from summer into fall, we see an increase, and it just kind of keeps going from there. We keep the momentum going. And we have a lot of families,
Fuzz Martin 6:51
you have a lot of families that that have needs are there or their needs. Also within like the senior communities and things like that, or is it is it mostly, you know, younger families?
Kristin Marx 7:01
Our families range, there are people with small children? We don't. Right now, we don't have any families with infants, okay. But we do have families with young children. And it does range all the way up to the elderly on fixed incomes.
Fuzz Martin 7:13
Do you guys take formulas and stuff even though you don't have any infants at the moment,
Kristin Marx 7:17
If people donate them to us, if we don't have a need, we will reach out to other local communities to find out if they have a need, shall we will not waste it, we will always make sure that it can go somewhere where it's being used or good.
Fuzz Martin 7:30
If somebody needs help from the Kewaskum community pantry, what's the process for them to get assistance? Do they just come between those hours? Or do you have a Sign Up program on does that?
Kristin Marx 7:39
Nope, they just come one more open Tuesdays and Thursdays from 4:15 to 6pm. And as long as you reside in the Kewaskum School District, we can serve you just bring your ID. Okay. And if you are out of our area, we have a list of resources at the pantry I just compiled for Washington County and final that counties have local pantries. I haven't gotten as far as Sheboygan or Ozaukee yet, but we'll work on those coming up here.
Fuzz Martin 8:06
You just recently took on this kind of leadership role with that. How long have you been volunteering or helping with the Kewaskum community pantry?
Kristin Marx 8:14
Well, my first experience volunteering with Kewaskum Community pantry was in 2020, during COVID, and I don't know how or why. But I had learned that Kewaskum has a food pantry. I didn't know we had a food pantry up until that point. And we've lived in Kewaskum for 11 years. I feel like during COVID Everybody, everybody was a little bit kinder, and a bit of a silver lining of that situation. But there was so much negativity online and in real life that I wanted to do something so I did a food drive out of our house. And I think we had 67 boxes.
Fuzz Martin 8:50
Okay, great. Oh, it was like I think I remember that.
Kristin Marx 8:53
It was crazy. I had to move all of our furniture out of the room and just boxes. But that was a really amazing experience. And we took everything over. And from that point on, I had an interest in the food pantry because it's amazing to give back to people who may not have the resources. Yeah, yeah. Then Aaron had reached out to me when he was in the process of purchasing Piggly Wiggly, and he was stepping down because it's a fine line, owning a grocery store and working for the food pantry. Yeah. So he had asked me if I would be interested in taking on his role. And he told me I just had to sign the tax returns.
Fuzz Martin 9:30
So it was just, it was how they always get your Christian.
Kristin Marx 9:33
So it was I was terrified, absolutely terrified. And these people didn't know me like and I mean, these people by the other volunteers that here I just come in as a new person. And, you know, I think they probably thought that I had big ideas and wanted to change the world and
Fuzz Martin 9:48
I just had to send the tax returns.
Kristin Marx 9:51
They are the volunteers like Barb, Shelley, and Judy. Sandy. They run it so well that they're There's really no role for me other than I like to do social media. I like to be the feet on the ground type person put me to work, I'll do the heavy lifting, Josh will help me, my husband. We're kind of the worker bees, and we will help in any capacity and they run it so well, that there's really no reason for me to be there.
It's great. It's awesome. You guys have strong volunteers. They're amazing. And I want to go back real quick to the point that you had made that prior to 2020 that you hadn't known about the food pantry. And I guess we didn't even discuss this. Where is the Kewaskum? Community pantry located?
The Kewaskum community pantry? Yes, I didn't know there was a food pantry in Kewaskum. Because fortunately, my husband and I have never had the need for it. But we moved to Kewaskum because it's a small town. We love the close knit feel of our community. And it was just once I found out it was there. 1504 Regal Drive right by the elementary school. I found a like a little niche where I just wanted to get involved with the community and try to do something good. Yeah.
And yeah, it's that little building that's like on the turn that has no stop sign. On second. Second.
Yeah, the one way where everybody goes the wrong way. Yeah, it's a building with no windows overhead door.
Yeah, if you're from Kewaskum, and you live in Kewaskum, you know, the one way that everybody goes the wrong way. And I think initially,
they thought because the school district built it. So they kind of thought that if the pantry didn't take off that, hey, we'll have another storage. Oh, yeah. facility for sports, or sure, you know, maintenance type thing. Yeah. But here we are.
There we are. Well, I mean, it's great that we have this in the community for those who do need it. Do you also take monetary donations? We do. Okay. And if somebody wants to do that, did they just make that those donations during the times that you're open? Or what's the best route for them?
People can they can take a donation to Laatsch's, Piggly Wiggly, okay. Or they could drop it off during open hours, or I've had people, Eric and Stacy Anderson from the Fifth Quarter. Now. It's RTS Fifth Quarter. But Eric and Stacey were amazing. They always between their patrons in them, they would always do fundraisers, and they would just reach out. Okay. It would call and say, Hey, we've got a check here. Can you come pick it up? And I'm more than happy to do that as well. Sure. Every dollar donated goes back to the Kewaskum food pantry.
Right? And the best way to get in touch is that through the Facebook page, or is there a website?
You know, Josh would say I'm addicted to my phone. So I will I'm I maintain it? Yeah, I do the email. It's email@example.com. Okay, or the Kewaskum community pantry Facebook page,
very good. If somebody wants to volunteer is another way to go just to reach out to that way.
Yes, if you want to volunteer, you can reach out to Barb Kinnaur. She is our lead volunteer, and she will handle all of the, you know, the training and like the orientation basically, for all new volunteers. We used to have approximately 10 volunteers, but through the years and during COVID especially dropped way down because you know, yeah, COVID. But now there's four volunteers. And it's a lot of work for them. They, they say they're fine, but you know how it is you're good at what you do. And it's sometimes hard bringing a new person into the mix, but they are open to volunteers. And if you want to volunteer for the Kewaskum community pantry, you can call 262-626-4448. And Barb will reach out to you when if we need somebody, right?
What do you find the most rewarding about being a part of the Kewaskum community pantry,
Giving back. Hands down. It's also really nice meeting the community just to interact with the people that you're helping servicing. The patrons of our pantry are really kind people, they're nice people. And it's just nice having that added touch of getting to know them and feeling like you're doing something worthwhile with your time.
Well, we really appreciate you and all the volunteers that donate their time and help those here in our community and help make our community stronger. And again, if people want to get in touch, it's Kewaskum firstname.lastname@example.org Right. And Kewaskum Community pantry on Facebook.
Yes, I shortened the email address just because it was a little it's a little bit long of a name. So it is email@example.com. And the Facebook is the Kewaskum Community Pantry.
All right. Very good. Kristin, thanks so much for coming on. We appreciate it.
Thank you again to Kristin Marx of the Kewaskum Community Pantry for joining me on this week's edition of Fifteen Minutes with Fuzz. Their email address and the link to their Facebook page is in my show notes for this episode. Or if you're new to podcasts, you'll likely find them in the description section of your podcast player or in the web post for this episode of Fifteen Minutes with Fuzz. And if you ever have an idea for the show, "hmu," as my Gen Z daughter would text me— that means hit me up. And that means contact me. lol fr fr. You can get in touch with me by going to fuzz.cc/guest and filling in the form that is fuzz.cc/guest or email me firstname.lastname@example.org That is fifteen spelled out with fuzz at gmail.com New episodes come out on Tuesdays, but you can listen whenever you want at fifteenwithfuzz.com. We are talking popcorn next week and that's when I'll talk to you next, right here on Fifteen Minutes with Fuzz.