A Racine-based veteran’s aid organization is opening a new food pantry in Kensoha.
Veterans Outreach of Wisconsin will open a satellite food pantry beginning Thursday, the pantry will be open once a week at the American Legion Post 21, 504-58th St.
Jeff Gustin, director of Veterans Outreach, said the organization has a food pantry in Racine and sees a need for one in Kenosha.
“In Racine we’ve been getting about 300 visits a month. Last month we gave out just over 1,100 pounds of food,” he said
About a year ago, after hearing from some veterans in Kenosha that they needed help but could not make it to Racine, the group began bringing food donations to the veterans’s service office in Kenosha. “We currently truck down food for between 15 and 20 (veterans),” Gustin said. “We’re anticipating that we will be serving those people right off the bat, and I’m anticipating that we will build slowly and then I wouldn’t be surprised if we had the same numbers we have in Racine.”
First found furniture
Gustin said the Veterans Outreach of Wisconsin got its start in December 2013. He said during a visit with people at the veteran’s support center in Union Grove “we overheard a veteran who left the shelter out there and got his own place and didn’t have any furniture.”
He and his co-founder volunteered to organize a drive to furnish the formerly homeless man’s new apartment. “Then we figured if there’s one, there’s got to be a few,” and started looking for others to help.
They now have a client base of 504 people. “We currently are supplying home furnishings to about 20 homes a month,” he said. About five projects a month are “complete furnishings” of a formerly homeless veteran’s new apartment. The balance see the group helping someone with smaller projects in their home.
Only for veterans, families
The food pantry grew out of conversations with veterans they spoke to on the home furnishings project.
“If three years ago someone had told me that this need was out there I wouldn’t have believed them,” Gustin said, saying the group has worked with people ranging from 22-year-old combat veterans to World War II veterans.
The Veterans Outreach of Wisconsin Food Pantry will be open at the American Legion Post 21 each Thursday from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. beginning Thursday.
It will open only to veterans and their immediate family members. People seeking help should bring a copy of their veteran’s I.D. or DD-214, along with a picture I.D.