Saturday, October 25, 2014

Features
Abundant Life Food Pantry
by Jennifer Tomazic


OCONOMOWOC -- There's a new place in Oconomowoc for people to go if they need a little help getting food on the table.

The Abundant Life Food Pantry is a place that has special meaning to the people who are behind it. Many of them have had to utilize a food pantry in their lives or have gotten help from strangers.

"Someone made Thanksgiving possible for us with their charity," said Steve Kielley. "They left a basket with the turkey, stuffing, and cranberries."

As a young couple, Kielley and his wife could have only imagined having a Thanksgiving feast on their post-college table. But one night they found that basket of food and Kielley has been humbled ever since.

He helped start the Abundant Life Food Pantry a couple weeks ago in the same heart. It's open on Sundays from 12:00 p.m until 2:00 p.m. and starting in October, the food pantry will be open Wednesdays from 5:00 p.m. until 6:30 p.m.

Kielley sites the University of Wisconsin extension office when he says 44% of Waukesha County is living below the poverty line. He says the numbers point to a need for more food pantries.

"So we're there to help fill the void until they can get back on their feet," said Kielley.

The Abundant Life Food Pantry is an emergency one, and it works similar to other ones already in place. Once a family qualifies, it can come once a month and pick up food, based on the amount of people in the family.

The bags are filled with things from all food groups and families can even get frozen meat, vegetables, and milk.

"I know there are people that would never think they would walk through the door of a food pantry but there comes a time when they should be able to walk through and not feel bad about it," Kielley said.

Jennifer Matteucci knows what that's like. "We had to utilize a food pantry quite a few times," she said. But she never felt bad about it and as a volunteer at the Abundant Life Food Pantry, she wants to make sure no one else does either.

"There's a great group of people here," said Matteucci. "No one will ever come to this food pantry and feel out of place."

Kielley thinks a lot bout the Thanksgiving basket he got when he was younger, "how we laughed, how we cried to think that somebody thought about us."

Now he's the one doing the thinking about others.

"I want to be the one, now that I'm older, to put the basket on their step and know that I'm making them laugh and cry."

The Abundant Life Food Pantry is located at 995 S. Sawyer Rd. in Oconomowoc. For more information, log onto http://www.alc1.org/foodpantry.