Community involvement and donations keeps food bank thriving

By Miriam Ostermann, Associate Editor

As the demand at the Wheatland County Food Bank remains steady and comparable to previous years, the Wheatland County and Strathmore communities continue to reinforce their symbiotic relationship with the charitable organization by ensuring the shelves remain stocked.
The local food bank, established in 1990 and serving members of Strathmore and Wheatland County, packed 690 hampers between Sept. 1, 2016 and Aug. 31, 2017. Over the last four months, the organization has already filled 219 hampers – numbers compatible with last year at this time.
With the help of donations from businesses, schools, community groups and individuals, the food bank is able to pack 15 to 20 hampers a week on average.
“We have people doing business and school food drives all the time,” said Lynette Aschenbrenner, administrative coordinator with the Wheatland County Food Bank. “We don’t ask or physically go out and ask for donations, but the community is constantly keeping us well stocked and financially sound.”
She added that the majority of people served are from Strathmore.
The Wheatland County Food Bank is a volunteer-run organization with 40 current volunteers including board members, hamper volunteers, screeners and drivers. Through donations, which includes produce from the Lord of All Lutheran Church garden, Poplar Bluff and local residents last year, the organization provides six hampers per client annually, or one every two months. According to the food bank, they also outsource to community groups including the Youth Club of Strathmore, Bridging the Gap’s Growing Opportunities, the Wheatland Crisis Society, schools, and the Strathmore and District Christmas Hamper Society.
“There’s still a lot of families in need,” said Aschenbrenner. “There are a lot of people out there who have trouble making ends meet month-to-month, or run into a crisis where one person loses a job, and I just think it’s important to help people through those hard times and get them back on their feet.
“We just want to make sure that the businesses and the community know that we greatly appreciate everybody’s help … and raise the awareness of the food bank and let people know that it’s there and available to them.”
Aschenbrenner said while the Wheatland County Food Bank’s primary focus is sustenance, personal care items – shampoo, toothbrushes and deodorants – are often too costly for low-income families and not something the organization can provide with donation money.
Despite not receiving any donations from grocery stores over the holiday season – which is allotted to the Strathmore and District Christmas Hamper Society during that time – various food drives within the community guaranteed the food bank’s ongoing efforts to fill their shelves and pack hampers every week leading up to Christmas.
For more information contact the Wheatland County Food Bank at 403-324-4335.