In March 2018, COA partnered with Hunger Task Force to open a brand new community food pantry in our Goldin Center! Located within our Ethel Nutis Gill Family Resource Center, COA’s new food pantry serves approximately 500 people per month. The pantry has increased hundreds of families’ access to healthy foods in the Amani neighborhood, which is located in the center of Milwaukee’s largest food desert.
The new food pantry is one-of-a-kind because it allows families to connect to all the other resources and programs that COA has to offer. Families with children ages birth to 6 who visit COA’s food pantry can access a variety of free resources provided through the Gill Family Resource Center like clothing, referrals, and legal aid. COA’s Gill Family Resource Center (FRC) provides fun activities and drop-in programming for families with children ages birth to six, including playtime, art projects, reading, songs, and snacks. The FRC also gives parents the chance to socialize and connect with local resources. For example, each Wednesday from 3:30pm to 6pm the Legal Aid Society of Milwaukee provides a free legal clinic. Every Monday and Thursday from 10am to 12pm adults can participate in COA’s Amani Job Readiness Program, which provides job search assistance, resume writing workshops, and mock interviews for unemployed residents.
“By supplementing food with nutrition education and delicious recipes, families’ knowledge of nutrition and wellness will continue to increase.”
COA’s Community Engagement Coordinator, Nicole Franklin, has seen the positive impact of the food pantry on the Amani neighborhood firsthand. As stated above, Amani is Milwaukee’s largest food desert. Aside from corner stores and gas stations that provide unhealthy, sugary snacks, there are few options for residents to buy healthy foods. Pantry facilitators also aid families by providing fresh recipes and nutrition education, equipping families with the skills and knowledge to maintain healthy diets for the long term. According to Mrs. Franklin, the pantry is important because it provides healthy food options that many families can try out for the first time ever. “It opens their minds to new things,” she says.
COA’s Gill Family Resource Center Coordinator, Brooks Griffin, has also observed how Amani residents benefit from the resources provided by the food pantry. Brooks is optimistic about the impact the pantry will have for the future: “By supplementing food with nutrition education and delicious recipes, families’ knowledge of nutrition and wellness will continue to increase.”
Aside from its health benefits, Nicole and Brooks have also seen how the food pantry has introduced a variety of new residents to the other resources that COA provides at our Goldin Center, including the Family Resource Center and the on-site Children’s Hospital Children and Family Pediatric Clinic. Residents who had otherwise never visited or even heard of these resources are now taking advantage of all they have to offer: “Now that we have this resource to provide for the families there is more access on both ends,” says Mrs. Franklin. “For example, a large part of the community was not aware that the FRC existed but through this resource they have the ability to come in and speak with the FRC staff about different needs that they have. It gives them a place to belong.”
COA is grateful for our strong partnership with Hunger Task Force. Thanks to their vital support the food pantry continues to grow and thrive.
COA’s food pantry is open two Saturdays (every two weeks) per month from 9am-12pm. The pantry is located within the Gill Family Resource Center inside COA Goldin Center (2320 W. Burleigh St).