Food pantry looks for donations, clicks in online competition

VANN hopes to triple space at new location
shelf of canned goods at a food pantry

An area food pantry is looking for community generosity or Internet clicks this holiday season.

The Verona Area Needs Network, which provides assistance to low-income families in the Verona Area School District, hopes to move to a new location next year. It has been responding to needs in the Verona and Fitchburg area for 28 years, but is now looking for some extra help.

The problem is not a flow of food, but a shortage of space. The small building on Franklin Street in Verona houses a food pantry for those who need it, but the pantry itself has new needs. Pantry coordinator Karen Fletcher has been getting donations from a high school food drive that still has two weeks to go.

“You can see pretty much the shelves are full so we don’t have enough storage,” Fletcher said. “I’ve had to take things home and put it in our sunroom just to store it.”

Fletcher said the pantry’s evolution has been like going from a family store to a supermarket. The increased need is seen a few times a month when there isn’t enough refrigerator space for the milk they need to give out.

“We watch to see if we’re getting close and then I’m usually here the whole time we’re open and I go make a milk run to Miller’s,” Fletcher said.

The volunteers said to not only provide more space but new services, they need $420,000 to move to an old county building near Maple Grove Road, which would triple their space.

“In our new facility we’re going to become an access point,” said Marcia Kasieta, who is leading VANN’s fundraising efforts. “Not just for people to get temporary help with food, but also to access training programs, nutrition classes, the county social work program.”

The group is already 60 percent of the way to their goal with donations and grants, but they’re hoping the generosity of the community in turning out plenty of food will be the same when it comes to a new location.

“This is an extremely generous community,” Kasieta said. “It actually takes our breath away it is so wonderful.”

Go online to donate to the Move the Food Campaign.

Starting Dec. 1, VANN is in an online competition sponsored by Walmart to give food pantries a makeover. You can vote through your Facebook account by following the steps below.

HOW TO VOTE: Vote through Dec 12.

Go to Walmart’s website.
Search by Zip Code (53593) or name (Verona Area Needs Network)
Click on the “vote” button and log into your Facebook account to vote