It Started with Liz For over 40 years, Sheboygan County Food Bank (SCFB) has existed because of the kindness and determined efforts of volunteers. In 2012, Liz Kroll began helping at St. Luke United Methodist Church’s food pantry in Sheboygan. Liz had experience managing Kohler restaurants and knew that the community could do more to provide enough emergency food for her neighbors in need. With a core of undeniable dedication, compassion and experience, Liz was hired as the first employee of SCFB.
Enlisting Help Liz began operating from her home and counted on the people around her to open their hearts, kitchen freezer spaces, and warehouse cooler doors. Her fellow “Howard’s Grovers” stuffed their freezers with Johnsonville brats and Glacier Transit Storage took on pallets of donated cheese from other generous local companies.
The Operation Expands By 2016, Liz upgraded her working space to the former 10,000 square-foot Nemschoff warehouse on the northside of Sheboygan. A typical morning fighting for her hungry neighbors involved connecting with food resources and gathering donated food. In the evenings, Liz hosted food-sorting pizza parties at the warehouse with her friends and continued her work at home applying for grants to raise funds for SCFB. Liz relied on the helping hands of her husband, Todd, to do heavy lifting in between his full-time job.
Investing for Efficiency Around this time, Liz, United Way of Sheboygan County, and Nourish conducted an analysis of the Sheboygan County food system and it was clear that providing access to emergency food in our community was not being sufficiently addressed. Louie Gentine, CEO of Sargento, learned of the need and called a meeting with other key leaders from Bemis, Johnsonville, Kohler Company, Sartori, Vollrath, and the United Way as well as Ed Mckelvey and David Sachse. Together, these leaders invested in SCFB in order to bring it to new levels of efficiency and service for the thousands of hungry families of Sheboygan County. Because of Sargento’s close partnership with Hunger Task Force (HTF) in Milwaukee, Louie connected us to HTF to help share best practices on how to run a highly efficient warehouse and, ultimately, establish an effective anti-hunger organization.
“WHAT A CRAZY RIDE THIS HAS BEEN. I’M GRATEFUL TO ALL OF THOSE WHO HELPED MAKE THE FOOD BANK WHAT IT IS TODAY. SO MANY VOLUNTEERS, SO MANY IDEAS, SO MANY PEOPLE WHO SAW THE VISION AND CONTINUALLY HELPED WHERE HELP WAS NEEDED.” LIZ KROLL, SENIOR DIRECTOR OF PROGRAMS AND COMMUNITY IMPACT
Central Collection for Network of 17 Food Pantries Thanks to Liz, Hunger Task Force, concerned business leaders, our Board of Directors, and the continued dedication of volunteers, SCFB has grown from one devoted part-time employee, to a team of nine dedicated staff members. With an extensive network of 17 food pantries as well as community meal sites, shelters, and other organizations, SCFB operates as Sheboygan County’s central collection point that efficiently stores both fresh and nonperishable food, helping support thousands of families each month.
Overcoming a Pandemic and Doing More for Our Neighbors By 2018, SCFB started to address childhood hunger by adding Food for Thought for Kids to its programming and launched the Sheboygan County Anti-Hunger Coalition and Food+ for Neighbors to begin to understand the root causes of hunger. In early 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic hit. All of a sudden thousands more families affected by the crisis were counting on us. We responded quickly, and with the help of our committed volunteers, over the entire year we safely distributed 2.5 MILLION POUNDS of food, including 36,882 Farmers to Families Food Boxes. To help reach more of our neighbors, in 2022 we opened our Sheboygan Cares Food Pantry and Herb Kohler and Natalie Black Community Cafe.
Ready for the Future At Sheboygan County Food Bank, we believe that everyone deserves nutritious food with dignity and recognize that ending hunger in our community requires a collaborative effort. The food pantries and other organizations that we serve help support our neighbors who need our compassion, care, and love. From 40 years ago until today, we appreciate everyone who has helped us develop into Sheboygan County’s leading anti-hunger organization making a difference in the lives of families facing hunger.