As we evaluate the Society of St. Vincent de Paul — Madison Food Pantry use month-by-month since 2019, we see a remarkable pattern. The 2019 line (blue) remained steady throughout the year. In 2020 (red) pantry use reflected the changing landscape of the COVID-19 pandemic throughout its first year. In 2021 (yellow), as federal funds, particularly advance child tax credit and stimulus payments, became available to families, pantry use dropped significantly to lower than historical use throughout the year. Presumably more people had money to provide for their family’s food needs. In January 2022 (green), pantry use began where it left off the month before with an upward trend that in August more than doubled last year’s pantry visits.
A slight dip in September follows historical trends, likely due to the return of children to school where breakfast and lunch are available to them. October is traditionally our busiest month, and the six pantry days before Thanksgiving have been the busiest each year. We had a record-breaking day with 205 families on August 26 and eclipsed that record on September 29 with 215 families. Each Thursday in October set a new record. November is generally a busy month at the pantry, with the days before Thanksgiving the highest each year. Thursdays continued to be record-setting days through the Thursday before Thanksgiving becoming our now largest-ever day with 277 families. Instead of tailing off in December as has been our history, we served the most households in a single month than ever before, with 2568 households using the pantry that month.
January 2023 was our largest-ever month, even though there were no record-setting days. February had a slight dip, still far above even the high months of 2020, and likely had fewer visits due to the length of the month and three Thursdays (typically our busiest days) with blizzard-like conditions. March jumped to 2854 visits, the highest ever by more than 300 visits. This reflects the end of pandemic-era accelerated FoodShare benefits (SNAP) going back to pre-pandemic norms, a decrease in benefit of about $100 per person. April still exceeds 2450 visits for the month and reflects two fewer pantry days in April than in March, with an average of 153 visits per pantry day. June hit a new high with 2858 households served. The new “normal” over the spring and summer months has pantry visits landing between 2600-3000 per month.
Thank you for everything you do for Dane County neighbors in need.
There is so much that the staff and volunteers here at the Society of St. Vincent de Paul — Madison do to help our neighbors in need. But it’s only possible because of the support from people like you.
Today, I’m writing to thank you for all your help and to update you on some of the recent achievements made possible by you, as well as challenges for the year ahead.
Families who are financially struggling are often hidden in plain sight. Many work multiple jobs to pay the rent, feed their families, and keep their cars running. Some have chronic health conditions compounding their challenges with limited mobility and isolation.
In the three months since I’ve been CEO, I’ve personally seen an alarming number of our Dane County neighbors hungry, without proper winter clothing, sleeping on floors, and failing in health because they cannot afford their prescription medications.
My recent letter about struggling families featured Roy and his son Jackson who needed help with groceries, clothes, beds, and life-sustaining heart medication. Roy and Jackson’s story moved many of our supporters.
I want to thank you for your donation to help our neighbors in need. Thanks to your support, I am very pleased to share that we surpassed our December goal of $400,000 to help Roy and the many families in Dane County who struggle to make ends meet. Your generosity is extraordinary!
Every dollar will be used as we acquire food and medicine from the most cost-effective sources and distribute clothing and household donations provided by generous supporters.
Thanks to people like you, we have been able to reach more neighbors in need than ever before with our food pantry, clothing and furniture vouchers, charitable pharmacy, and housing programs. I continue to hear from neighbors who are so grateful to turn to us during difficult times.
With your help, we have already achieved much for our neighbors in need. However, I know there is much, much more that we must do.
Working in step with the board, our staff, and volunteers we are adapting and strengthening our efforts for neighbors in need. I know how much we can improve the lives of many more struggling families.
My top priorities in 2023 are:
- Providing an alternative to predatory loan companies which prevent neighbors from achieving financial stability.
- Expanding customer choice by restoring the indoor food pantry along with operating the outdoor drive-through, online ordering, and delivery options.
- Stabilizing single custodial adults raising children through individualized support services.
- Increasing the number of patients without prescription drug coverage served through our Charitable Pharmacy.
These efforts would not be possible without your support during the past year. Thank you for everything you do to help our neighbors in need.
If you have any questions about the work you enable us to do please feel free to contact me directly at (608) 278-2920 x32 or email@example.com. I’d love to speak with you.
With the deepest gratitude,
CEO & Executive Director
You voted St. Vinny’s Thrift Stores as the best around town. Thank you! And, thank you for shopping and donating. We are proud to operate quality thrift stores and bring you unique, one-of-a-kind events.
Madison Magazine Best of Madison:
- Best Thrift/Secondhand/Consignment Store: 2023, 2022, 2021, 2020, 2019
- Best Home Accessories: 2022
- Best Clothing (Women): 2022
- Best Clothing (Men): 2023, (bronze), 2022 (bronze), 2018 (bronze)
Madison.com People’s Choice:
- Consignment/Used Clothing Store/Resale Shop: 2023, 2022, 2021
- Clothing Store (Women’s): 2023, 2021
- Clothing Store (Men’s): 2023 (bronze)
- Charitable Organization: 2022 (silver), 2021 (bronze)
Waunakee’s Tribune Best of Waunakee Awards:
- Best Place to Shop for Bargains: 2023, 2022, 2020, 2019, 2018, 2017, 2016, 2015, 2010
- Best Retail Store: 2022
Sun Prairie STAR Best of Sun Prairie Awards
- Best Place to Shop for Bargains: 2023, 2022, 2021, 2020, 2019, 2018, 2017, 2016
It’s a bright sunny afternoon in late October as Kamaria* finishes her work day as a caregiver. She smiles, says hello when I walk up to her car to chat. Yesterday included two shifts, one for each of her employers, 12 hours in total. She is tired.
“Caregiving is a hard job,” Kamaria says. “But it’s good. If people didn’t like it, they wouldn’t do it.”
Kamaria’s third job is being a mom to three teenagers. Her youngest is 14.
“I am so busy, they keep me on the run,” Kamaria says.
Her final stop before going home is the St. Vincent de Paul Food Pantry.
“I have been coming to the pantry for a long time,” Kamaria explains. “It helps, it really helps. Especially now with how expensive food is.”
Increased need for food
As pantry staff member Ashleigh loads Kamaria’s groceries into her front seat, she smiles and laughs that her kids can help her unload once she gets home. The boxes and bags are heavy with fresh produce and pantry staples. Cooking oil and other baking items are particularly bulky and hard to afford on her budget.
“The kids eat all of the food, they can unload it,” Kamaria laughs. “I cook healthy food all of the time. My kids love fruits and vegetables. Anything fresh.”
The rising prices of food, gas and utilities are hurting her ability to care for her children. She gets food from the pantry to be able to afford other bills.
The St. Vincent de Paul Food Pantry is open four days a week to provide groceries to families and individuals. Each month since May of this year an increasing average number of households have turned to the pantry for help with food. Rising costs hit people with limited incomes the hardest forcing them to make hard choices and adding stress to their lives.
A blessing of time and convenience
Kamaria struggles to find time to balance all of the demands of her day: working two jobs, managing a household and raising three hungry teenagers. She uses Pantry2Home (formally PantryPal), the online food ordering system. She credits the resource as a game-changer for her family.
“The online order has been good. I come home from work and don’t have time to wait in line and have to go right home and cook,” Kamaria says. “A friend from work told me about this service. I am so glad I learned about this.”
Placing an online order relieves the burden of time from families stretched thin, allows them to choose exactly which pantry items they need, reduces food waste and offers greater flexibility for cultural preferences and dietary restrictions. Online orders are easy to make for people using the pantry. They visit the Food Pantry page of our website and click the Pantry2Home button to place an order for pickup, or the DoorDash button to place an order for delivery.
Currently, about 20 families place and pick up orders each Monday, Tuesday and Friday. On Thursday, that number exceeds 50 families as DoorDash drivers deliver the orders to 25- 40 families, in addition to those who choose to pick up their orders. Pantry staff and volunteers work hard to pack all of these orders while still managing the drive-through pantry service. Your generosity fed an average of 145 households each pantry day last month.
“You guys do wonderful things. I don’t like to waste food and with the online ordering I can choose exactly what I know my kids will eat,” Kamaria reaffirms.
Kamaria relies on the St. Vincent de Paul Food Pantry to feed her family and give her hope. Your care for and generosity to her and thousands of neighbors like her is tremendous. You make moving forward together in hope possible.
*Name changed to maintain the neighbor’s privacy. Photos are representational.
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The LP/Record event has spun right ’round again! We will have a fan-tastic selection of rock t-shirts and music memorabilia. You may just find the record of your DJ-ing dreams or a gem to add to your personal collection.
Non-discrimination Policy, October 27, 2020
The District Council of Madison, Inc., Society of St. Vincent de Paul does not and shall not discriminate in our employment, services and volunteerism on the basis of age, race, color, disability, marital status, sex, sexual orientation, national origin, ancestry, arrest record, conviction record, military service, or use or nonuse of lawful products off the employer’s premises during nonworking hours, or any characteristic protected by applicable local, state and federal law. We are committed to providing an inclusive and welcoming environment for all members of our staff, clients, volunteers and vendors. Although the District Council of Madison, Inc., Society of St. Vincent de Paul does not generally consider religion in either hiring or the services it provides, because we are a Catholic charity, requiring liaison with the Catholic Church and its members, certain positions involving such liaisons are reserved for members of the Catholic Church. The District Council of Madison, Inc., Society of St. Vincent de Paul reserves the right to consider whether the conduct reflected in a criminal conviction demonstrates an incompatibility with the responsibilities of the specific job for which an applicant is applying.