It Started With Liz For over 38 years, Sheboygan County Food Bank (SCFB) has existed because of the kindness and determined efforts of volunteers. In 2012, Liz Kroll began helping at St. Luke United Methodist Church’s food pantry in Sheboygan. Liz had experience managing Kohler restaurants and knew that the community could do more to provide enough emergency food for her neighbors in need. With a core of undeniable dedication, compassion and experience, Liz was hired as the first employee of SCFB.
Enlisting Neighbors’ Help Liz began operating from her home and counted on the people around her to open their hearts, kitchen freezer spaces, and warehouse cooler doors. Her fellow “Howard’s Grovers” stuffed their freezers with Johnsonville brats and Glacier Transit Storage took on pallets of donated cheese from other generous local companies.
The Operation Expands By 2016, Liz upgraded her working space to the old Nemschoff warehouse on the northside of Sheboygan. A typical morning fighting for her hungry neighbors involved connecting with food resources and gathering donated food. In the evenings, Liz hosted food-sorting pizza parties at the warehouse with her friends and continued her work at home applying for grants to raise funds for SCFB. Liz relied on the helping hands of her husband, Todd, to do heavy lifting in between his full-time job.
Investing for Efficiency Around this time, Liz, United Way of Sheboygan County, and Nourish conducted an analysis of the Sheboygan County food system and it was clear that providing access to emergency food in our community was not being sufficiently addressed. Louie Gentine, CEO of Sargento, learned of the need and called a meeting with other key leaders from Bemis, Johnsonville, Kohler Company, Sartori, Vollrath, and the United Way as well as Ed Mckelvey and David Sachse. Together, these leaders invested in SCFB in order to bring it to new levels of efficiency and service for the thousands of hungry families of Sheboygan County. Because of Sargento’s close partnership with Hunger Task Force (HTF) in Milwaukee, Louie connected HTF to SCFB. HTF staff mentored SCFB on best practices on how to run a highly efficient and effective warehouse as well as a variety of other anti-hunger initiatives.
“WHAT A CRAZY RIDE THIS HAS BEEN. I’M GRATEFUL TO ALL OF THOSE WHO HELPED MAKE THE FOOD BANK WHAT IT IS TODAY. SO MANY VOLUNTEERS, SO MANY IDEAS, SO MANY PEOPLE WHO SAW THE VISION AND CONTINUALLY HELPED WHERE HELP WAS NEEDED.” LIZ KROLL, SENIOR DIRECTOR OF PROGRAMS AND COMMUNITY IMPACT
Central Collection for Network of 17 Food Pantries Thanks to Hunger Task Force, concerned business leaders, the SCFB Board of Directors, and the continued dedication of volunteers, SCFB has grown from one devoted part-time employee, to a team of eight dedicated hunger fighting staff members. SCFB started as an operation run out of Liz’s home and neighbors’ freezers and now occupies a 10,000-square foot warehouse. Together, with an extensive network of 17 food pantries as well as community meal sites, shelters, and other organizations, SCFB has developed into Liz’s dream. SCFB operates as Sheboygan County’s central collection point that efficiently stores both fresh and nonperishable food and delivers healthy, nutritious, and free food to help thousands of families each month.
Addressing Hunger and its Root Causes From 2018 to 2021, SCFB has been focusing on addressing the root causes of hunger by launching several other new initiatives, including the Sheboygan County Anti-Hunger Coalition, and implementing a client intake, distribution, and referral process in partnership with food pantries. The goal of the new process is to help individuals and families move from emergency food dependence to food secure homes. SCFB was honored to receive the Sheboygan County Chamber of Commerce’s Nonprofit of the Year award for both 2018 and 2020.
Ready for the Future At Sheboygan County Food Bank, we believe that everyone deserves healthy food with dignity and recognize that ending hunger in our community requires a collaborative effort. The food pantries and other organizations that we serve help support our neighbors who need our compassion, care, and love. From 38 years ago until today, we appreciate everyone who has helped us develop into an effective organization that is providing healthy, emergency food to our neighbors in their times of need.