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St. Joseph Food Program’s new drive-thru is up and running

Published: Mar. 19, 2021 at 4:54 PM CDT
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MENASHA, Wis. (WBAY) - A couple weeks ago, Action 2 News first reported about St. Joseph Food Pantry’s plans to switch up its distribution method. The new drive-thru started up for the first time this week.

The St. Joseph Food Program distribution site is looking vastly different, now filled with conveyor belts as part of the new drive-thru system.

“It’s been a bit of a surprise to most of the volunteers how well things have gone because this is radically different from how we had been serving,” said Sarah McRae.

McRae has been volunteering almost six years. She’s impressed with the new system.

“It’s a wonderful blend of still being able to see our clients and serve them and bring them the needed food, healthy food, but also keeping everyone safe,” said McRae. “It’s just really meaningful to be able to still encounter them at a safe distance and have conversations and encourage them, while we’re providing the food with hope, because I think that’s really important.”

Clients now check in from their car before pulling up to one of three drive-thru windows.

That check-in allows volunteers to pull up their information on Chromebooks quickly to see basic information about the client as they park -- information that tells them how much food they’ll need so it can be set on the drive-thru window’s ledge.

Clients simply grab their food, load it into their cars, and go.

“I can’t say it runs itself because the volunteers are doing just such a great job, but I think it’s so easy now and it just flows,” said Executive Director Monica Clare.

Clare believes this system will serve them well far into the future

“I really feel like if things get worse for people and we end up with more clients, I think it’s so efficient that we’ll definitely be able to handle them efficiently and do that in a timely manner,” said Clare.

She is grateful for the community effort it took to make this happen.

“It’s just amazing. When we saw it all finally put together. It’s kind of heart warming and a little bit of tear rending, all of that,” said Clare. “To see it all put together and see everybody’s ideas put into place, it’s just been a great experience.”

A great experience that helps St. Joseph’s mission which, to McRae, goes above and beyond providing meals.

“We’re not just here volunteering, we’re not just putting some time in, we’re really offering hope and love,” said McRae. “I think.”

Learn more about the St. Joseph Food Program through its website or Facebook page.

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