Food Pantries Need More Food

Join SBCP in supporting the food pantry in your community

State Bank of Cross Plains will once again be hosting a food drive at each of our locations throughout the month of April. What better way to celebrate Community Banking Month than by partnering with the communities we serve to help more people meet their basic needs, and perhaps even thrive?

But did you know that food pantries need more than food to fulfill their missions?

We want to share the experience of two SBCP employees who volunteer at Heights Unlimited in Black Earth in order to show the depth of need and the variety of opportunities to help.

Getting Involved: Something for Any Schedule

Relationship Banking Officer for SBCP’s Prime Time Plus Club Lois Boehnen always loved hearing her cousin Al Ripp talk about running the food pantry in Middleton. For years, she wanted to volunteer at a food pantry, but didn’t think her busy schedule would allow it. Then she heard her coworker Debbie Huelsemann talk about her involvement at Heights Unlimited.

“My schedule is so crazy that I thought I didn’t have the time to give despite my desire to volunteer,” Boehnen shares. “My job at the bank requires me to be out of town a lot to present at different events. Sometimes, I’m even out of the country. Then Debbie told me that the food pantry needs people to pick up food at businesses who donate items nearing their expiration date. The schedule was more flexible, so I finally made the call and offered up my time.”

Since Boehnen sometimes has to work outside normal business hours, she has more flexibility during the regular day. That enabled her to sign up whenever she is available to stop at local Kwik Trips and grocery stores to pick up donations and bring them to the pantry for sorting and shelving. She can choose different shifts here and there whenever she has time.

Face-to-Face Contact versus Behind-the-Scenes Support

Debbie Huelsemann is a Customer Service Representative at State Bank of Cross Plains. Many people know her job more commonly as a teller. Her skill with helping people all day long transfers nicely to her role at Heights Unlimited assisting people with their shopping.

It’s not uncommon for the food pantry to serve more than 30 or 40 families in a 3-hour period.

“For each shopper or family who visits the food pantry, I’m given a list telling me how many people are in the family, so we know how much of each product they’re able to receive to meet the need,” Huelsemann explains. “I like to suggest ways they can use different items they may not have cooked with before and try to keep the experience upbeat and lighthearted. In a small community like this, it’s not unusual for me to know some of the people I’m working with, but my background at the bank makes privacy second nature for me. Instead, I enjoy catching up with them during the shopping trip, and it honestly feels very natural and ordinary to keep their visit just between us.”

While Huelsemann’s more visible role seems to be what people think of when it comes to volunteer experiences, the food pantry requires roughly 350 volunteer hours per month to operate effectively, including all types of jobs, such as:

  • Pick-ups and deliveries, such as Lois Boehnen and her husband provide
  • Sorting, weighing, logging, and shelving donations at the food pantry
  • Straightening shelves and rotating stock so food doesn’t expire
  • Checking refrigeration units to maintain proper temperatures
  • Shopping for food items using donated cash
  • Ordering food from Second Harvest
  • Volunteer scheduling and communications
  • Working at brat fries and other fundraising events
  • Helping at the clothes closet at Heights Unlimited
  • Filling out paperwork to meet reporting requirements
  • Bookkeeping
  • Inventory
  • Cleaning
  • Plus, so many other opportunities

Boehnen would love to have more face-to-face contact with those they’re helping, but she’s the first to say that takes a very special personality, like her friend Debbie. Boehnen admits that she finds working behind-the-scenes instead surprisingly rewarding.

“When we drop off the donations we’ve gathered, the shelves are empty,” Boehnen reports. “It feels really good to help fill them up again for the next group of shoppers. I feel a little like Santa putting out gifts for the shoppers to find the next day.”

Boehnen also explains how connected she feels to the businesses where she picks up donations: “The businesses are so incredibly generous! They always go just a little beyond what is necessary. It makes me really proud to live in a community that takes care of each other so well.”

Is it time to get involved?

Huelsemann urges others to step outside your comfort zone and experience the joys of giving back to your community. They both agree they get much more out of volunteering than they give.

“It reminds me to be humble and grateful for everything we have,” Boehnen confirms.

To donate to the food drive during Community Banking Month, bring non-perishable items or a cash donation to any State Bank of Cross Plains location from April 2-20. For a list of most-needed items for each community food pantry, visit

As a bonus, your donation serves as an entry to win a $50 grocery gift certificate. Winners from each community location also get an opportunity to speed shop, racing against the clock to fill a grocery cart with items to be donated to their local food bank.

For more information about volunteering your time and talents, simply pick up the phone and call the food pantry near you. We’ve compiled a list of area pantries here.

We’d like to thank Debbie Huelsemann, Lois Boehnen, and all the other members of our bank family who embody the values of State Bank of Cross Plains so well by working to make the communities where we live, work, and play even better.

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