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Change underway at Five Loaves Food Shelf

A lot of Five Loaves Food Shelf's produce has come from local growers. On Friday, Aug. 31, one local gardener delivered two bags of fresh tomatoes.

A lot has happened at Five Loaves Food Shelf since moving into their new space at the Community Commons.

Shanta Mortimore took over the post as the pantry's coordinator earlier this year. She said it's her goal to change the way the food shelf operates and she hopes to make it more welcoming to the community.

"I really want the community to own this space," she said. "That's what the whole Community Commons space is about. It's a community space."

To do that, Mortimore changed the evening hours of the food shelf, effective Sept. 4.

Now, the space is open from 6-7:30 p.m. Monday, Tuesday and Thursday. That's in addition to the hours during the day, which are 10 a.m. until noon on Tuesday and 2-4 p.m. on Wednesday.

"We found it hard to recruit new volunteers because of the hours," she said. "We're hoping this change will allow more families to volunteer and still be able to do other things."

About five people are needed per shift at the food shelf, Mortimore said.

"It would be nice to get an entire family or youth group in here for a shift because we're really trying to make this more of a homey and relaxed environment," she said. "There's a stigma attached to the food shelf but we're here to say, 'That's OK - that's what we're here for.' We're here to take that stigma away."

Since moving into the space at the old middle school, the food shelf also has done away with requiring client appointments, Mortimore said.

"Now it's first come, first served," she said. "Clients are given a (number) when they arrive."

The food shelf serves approximately 300 families and have shifted their focus to providing more nutritious meals.

"We're really trying to get people to understand how to build a healthy meal you can stretch," she said.

To accomplish this, Five Loaves hosts nutrition presentations from the University of Wisconsin-Extension office.

"Even though they're living on a shoe string, there are still ways to do things," Mortimore said.

Most of the food at Five Loaves Food Shelf is purchased by the pantry or collected during food drives, Mortimore said. Some of the food, including a lot of this summer's produce, is donated by local residents.

"This summer we've had an abundance of local growers bringing things in from their personal gardens," she said. "It's been absolutely wonderful."

Mortimore said that while Five Loaves is considered a food shelf, one of the biggest needs is personal items, including deodorant and toothbrushes.

"We're hoping to build a relationship with the local dentists," she said. "It's our hope that they might donate some toothbrushes."

The food shelf is available to income-qualified residents in the New Richmond School District.

For more information, visit http://www.5loavesfoodand