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CUP pantry marks 35 years

CUP pantry marks 35 years CUP pantry marks 35 years

The CUP Food Pantry located at Zion Lutheran Church in Colby celebrates 35 years of service to the area this year.

In recognition of this milestone, a few changes have been made in the CUP management structure. At its June 17 meeting, the Zion Board of Directors officially named long-time volunteers Larry and Diane Decker as co-directors of CUP, assisting Ivadeane Abegglen, who has ably served as food pantry director since July 1999.

“We will now all be working together to serve people in need,” Ivadeane said. She plans to continue handling the meticulous recordkeeping and food ordering, while the Deckers will concentrate on the packing, supply and distribution functions.

Pastor Mark Neumann started the food pantry at Zion in 1985. There was a farm crisis at that time, with 180 farmers going bankrupt. There was a need to be met, and the church stepped up.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) gave Zion funds to purchase a freezer. Pastor Neumann cleaned out a storage room and a small classroom to make room for a food pantry.

He drove to Eau Claire and purchased food items from Feed My People for 12 cents per pound. Available items included whatever was donated to them, such as dented and unlabeled cans, torn or partially opened boxes of food and items that were overruns from a processor in a nearby city.

Pastor Neumann developed a weekly menu, figuring how much food would be used by a single person, a couple, a family of four and a larger family. During Thanksgiving Week in 1985, Pastor Neumann took the food pantry message to churches in Colby, Abbotsford and Unity, who then asked their members for donations to the food pantry.

Volunteer Lois Anderson was the first worker who took information about clients, stocked the shelves and passed out food once per week on Tuesdays. Lorraine Beyerl handled the initial paperwork required by Clark County.

“The pantry became a focal point for people who needed food, and for members of our local communities to donate food and money,” Pastor Neumann said.

Early volunteers were Elaine Schultz, Irene Strathmann, Ivadeane and her husband, Gordon. The roster expanded through the years to include Delores Hedler, Luella Krauter, Mabel Schultz, Mark and Ruth Ott; Joyce Johnson, Cecil Ewert, Jackie Stange, Delores Stuttgen, Vera Jensen, Norm Searer, Skip and Deb Klabon; Don and Betty Wolf; and Don and Carla Dommer. Larry and Diane Decker joined the group in 2012-2013.

Diane served as church secretary for many years, retiring in 2015. Larry worked at Packaging Corporation of America, Green Bay Packaging and Colby Metal, “retiring” in 2010.

Ivadeane was named as CUP treasurer in 1992 and was designated by Pastor Neumann as CUP director in 1999. In 2005, the food pantry moved into its present location (the original daycare room).

“Ivadeane oversaw an enlargement in both clients and donations,” Pastor Neumann said. “The pantry was moved to its present location after some remodeling was done.”

During the remodeling, Pastor Neumann sanded a huge timber that supported the original church building, including the first indoor bathrooms installed in the 1930s. Florence Studinski, former FEMA director for Clark County, told Pastor Neumann in the early going that food pantries normally last for only five years due to the lack of interest in providers.

“Thanks to Ivadeane, Zion members and volunteers, it has been 35 years and climbing,” Pastor Neumann said.

In recognition of her efforts with CUP, Ivadeane was named Citizen of the Year in 2009 by the Abbotsford/Colby Crossings Chamber of Commerce and was chosen in 2014 as grand marshall of the Colby Cheese Days Parade.

Ivadeane served on the Clark County Office of Aging Board of Directors for nine years. She helped organize the food pantry based on guidelines from that organization.

CUP clients must give their name, household size, number of adults and children living in the home, head of household employment information, and indicate if both parents are living in the home. A declaration of need and release of liability to CUP must also be signed.

CUP continues to serve Colby, Abbotsford, Dorchester, and Curtiss. Unity started its own food pantry five years ago. According to CUP records, 31,080 people were served from 2009-2019.

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way CUP provides service to clients. As of June 25, curbside only pickup is being provided Tuesdays from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. at the Jefferson Street entrance on the south side of Zion Lutheran Church. Food and other items are transferred through a service window, making use of a slider made by Don Wolf. Support is provided by church office personnel.

In the early days, Ivadeane made many trips to Aldi’s in Marshfield to pick up groceries. She recently worked out an arrangement with Abby County Market to have items delivered to CUP.

The public has also been very generous, with donations of food and cash to meet the need of clients.

For more information about CUP, call 715-223-2166.