Full Shelf Food Pantry opened its doors in November 1982, with only 10 cans of green beans. Today the pantry, located in West Bend, has more than enough products to justify its name, from fresh produce to frozen chicken breasts.
Husband and wife team Larry and Lynn Ahren have been leading the charge at Full Shelf, a long-time member of the Feeding America Eastern Wisconsin network of food pantries, since its inception. After 12 years in Full Shelf’s first home at Lynn’s Waste Paper on Island Avenue, the pantry moved to its current location on Municipal Drive.
The larger building allowed the pantry staff to add a walk-in cooler and freezer, and have enough space to accept semi-loads of donations. Restrooms and a waiting room that seats 25 are available for clients at the front of the building.
Full Shelf Food Pantry is entirely volunteer-run, with over 240 volunteers helping out on a rotating basis. Lynn credits the friendships made amongst the volunteers as her favorite part of working at Full Shelf.
“We have an excellent group backing us up,” Larry added.
Along with the standard foods, Full Shelf offers baby products, toiletries and birthday gift bags for children assembled by a local Girl Scouts troop. Full Shelf is one of the largest pantries in the Feeding America Eastern Wisconsin network and the state, serving between 450 to 525 families a month. Clients may visit the pantry once a month for all items, and weekly for bakery products and vegetables.
Larry believes a positive aspect of working with Feeding America Eastern Wisconsin is having the ability to buy low-cost product in bulk. “I normally buy about 10 pallets at a time,” Larry said. “I’ll simply call and say I want this, this and this.”
Full Shelf Food Pantry is open to serve Washington County Monday through Friday from 4:15– 5:30 p.m. For their senior population, Full Shelf’s Stock Box program provides a 35-pound box of basic food products to low-income community members age 60 and over. Stock boxes are available the first and third Tuesday of the month from 9– 11 a.m.
To find a food pantry near you, click here.