It Started With Liz For over 37 years, Sheboygan County Food Bank (SCFB) has existed because of the kindness and determined efforts of volunteers. In 2012, Liz Kroll, a resident of Howards Grove began helping at St. Luke United Methodist Church’s food pantry in Sheboygan. Liz had experience managing Kohler restaurants and wondered, “Why isn’t there enough food here for my neighbors who are in need?” Liz knew that our community could do more for our hungry neighbors. With a core of undeniable dedication, compassion, and experience, Liz was hired as the first employee of Sheboygan County Food Bank.
Enlisting the Neighbor’s 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 in the County, including Bemis, Johnsonville, Kohler Company, Sartori, Vollrath as well as United Way, 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 partnerhship 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, we have grown from one devoted part-time employee, to a team of eight dedicated hunger fighting staff members. We started as an operation run out of Liz’s home and neighbors’ freezers and now work out of a 10,000-square foot warehouse. Together, with our network of 17 food pantries as well as many community meals, shelters, and other organizations, we have developed into Liz’s dream of becoming a central collection point that efficiently stores both fresh and nonperishable food and delivers healthy, nutritious and free food to help about 3,000 families each month.
Measuring for Success In 2018 and 2019, we dove further to change the lives of those who we serve by rolling out client engagement and tracking software at our partner food pantries with the goal of helping individuals and families in our community move from emergency food dependence to food secure homes and several other new initiatives including the launch of the Sheboygan County Anti-Hunger Coalition. We were honored to receive the Sheboygan County Chamber of Commerce’s 2018 Nonprofit of the Year award.
Ready for the Future 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 37 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.