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'This is our way of serving the community': Door Co. pantries see largest uptick in food demands post-pandemic

Posted at 11:32 AM, Sep 19, 2023
and last updated 2023-09-19 12:32:33-04
  • Video shows Door of Life pantry and some of their most popular items
  • Heidi Penchoff, who heads the Door of Life pantry says there are several reasons for more people needing food.
  • If you would like to help, you can bring food to the Door of Life Christian Church in Sturgeon Bay.

(The following is a transcription of the full broadcast story)

Food pantries like this one in Sister Bay are helping those in need and organizers say items like this pancake mix are tough to keep on the shelves because they're so popular.

I'm your Door County neighborhood reporter Katlyn Holt.

The woman who operates this pantry says she's seeing more people in need of food this summer.

"We've seen such an uptick that what we usually go through in a year, we've already gone through in six months this year," said Penchoff.

Heidi Penchoff has managed the Door of Life food pantry in Sister Bay for 15 years.

She says this summer, the pantry has had its biggest uptick in use since the COVID-19 lockdown.

"It's not the food, the donations haven't really, they have not decreased but our food needs have just increased so much," said Penchoff.

The Door of Life pantry is open 24/7 which makes it possible for people to stop in whenever they can and allows for them to remain anonymous.

Penchoff says there are several reasons for more people needing food.

"I think housing is an incredible problem in Door County, especially in Northern Door County. I think that grocery costs, gas costs, everything, everything is just gone up so high," said Penchoff.

Penchoff told me the local Piggly Wiggly grocery store helps raise money in gift cards towards the food pantry during the holiday season.

"This year we got about $4,000 worth of gift cards that are broken down into $50 gift cards that we supplement people with," said Penchoff.

Usually, this funding lasts them all year, but this year it was gone within six months.

She says the biggest thing people can do to help, is to drop off food items.

John Cain lives in Sister Bay, and he says he donates when he can.

"There are certainly people that have needs and we have grown these things and we don't need it all and we're certainly happy to share with others," said Cain.

Penchoff says they couldn't keep the pantry stocked without the help from people in the community.

"That's something that people don't understand is the needs are so well hidden up in Door County that people don't really think that there's that kind of a need," said Penchoff.