Pecatonica Community Food Pantry volunteers gathered for a photo during the Open House on Tuesday, July 16. (L-R) First Lutheran Church Pastor Nord Swanstrom, John Stelter, Sue Thurman, Pat Powers, Janice Anderson, Jackie Moyer, Marcie Nestler, Mark Highland, John Moyer and Brian Johnson.

By Doug Schroder
The Pecatonica Food Pantry has been operating out of Pecatonica United Methodist Church for over 40 years now. What started out as a small operation where people would call-in and receive one box of groceries on an as needed basis, has grown into a three day a month venture where people can come in at designated times and get a variety of items that help provide for a more balanced diet. It takes many different people and businesses to keep the pantry going. There are approximately 20 people who regularly volunteer their time at the pantry.
An Open House was held by the pantry at Pecatonica United Methodist Church on Tuesday evening, July 16, from 5 to 7 p.m. to not only thank the various businesses and individuals who have supported the pantry through donations, but to also raise awareness for others in the community of all the pantry does and where needs could be filled. All pantry board members were in attendance, as well nearly all of the volunteers, and they set everything up just as they do for the distribution days so guests could get an idea of how the pantry operates.
The vice-president of the pantry board, John Moyer, took the time to talk with the Gazette a little bit, explaining some of the history of the pantry and what plans are for the future. According to Moyer, there is a big change in the works that will further help the pantry provide better services for the community through government grants.
To date, the pantry has operated under the umbrella of the church. Because of that the pantry does not qualify for the government grants. Therefore the decision was made by the board to change the pantry to a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization whereby the pantry would then qualify for the grants. With the change some added responsibilities for the pantry would occur, although receiving the grants would make up for that.
“It will cost us a little more as a 501(c)(3). We’ll have to pay for our own insurance and a few other things. We could have gotten a $10,000 grant as a 501(c)(3) which would more than cover the additional costs,” said Moyer.
Nothing would change as far as location or distribution for the pantry should they become a nonprofit.
The pantry currently serves on average 92 families, 383 individuals and 64 children under the age of 18, per month.
In addition to the businesses and individuals who donate to the food pantry there are other organizations and groups that help to keep the pantry going. First Lutheran Church assists in different areas. Boy Scout Troop 1 and Cub Scout Pack 391 hold two food drives a year. It’s an annual event for students from Pec Elementary to hold a food drive at the school to help fill holiday boxes, and then to all walk in single file lines from the school to the church to deliver those items. Students from Pec High School also volunteer their time to the pantry.
Assistance for the pantry does not come from just those in the Pecatonica community. Over in Winnebago this past school year students at the high school held a drive whereby their goal was to fill Principal Ron Gruber’s office with donations to the point where Gruber would have to move his office into the hallway.
The goal was met and Gruber had to conduct business for s short time from a spot in the hallway. Sullivan’s Foods in Winnebago helped the pantry out last summer by donating meat and use of their grills so that the pantry could have two cookouts selling the meat with all proceeds raised going to the pantry.
Two 4-H groups, the Winnebago Wide-Awakes and the Seward Determination clubs have also held food drives for the pantry in the past.
These are but a small example of those who have helped in the past. The Pecatonica Community Food Pantry has grown so much over the years with the help of so many in the community, too many to mention here.
Distribution dates are the second Saturday of the month from 10 a.m. to noon, the third Wednesday of the month from 3 to 5 p.m., and the fourth Tuesday of the month from 10 a.m. to noon.
The Pecatonica Community Food Pantry Board is made up of Jennifer Davison – President, John Moyer – Vice-President, Lori Peterson – Treasurer, John Stelter – Secretary, Jackie Moyer, Sue Mangus, Brian Johnson. Pastor Nord Swanstrom and Pastor Mark Gilmore.
To make a donation or if you have questions call 815-239-1110.

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