Middleton Outreach Ministry continues to feed community, including new faces, during pandemic

“We know that over the past few months we’ve seen an increase in people coming throughout the summer and into fall, the numbers have been growing,” said MOM executive director Ellen Carlson.
Published: Dec. 7, 2020 at 10:15 PM CST|Updated: Dec. 7, 2020 at 10:28 PM CST
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MIDDLETON, Wis. (WMTV) -“Rice, corn meal, macaroni!”

You likely heard Janet Bybee before you saw her at the Middleton Outreach Ministry’s Thanksgiving Basket Distribution in November. The 14 year volunteer with MOM strode the aisles of the food pantry, coordinating bags of food heading out the door to be deposited in their clients’ cars.

“After I retired, I decided I needed to find some way to occupy my time and to give back to my community,” Bybee said. She’s volunteered in a number of different positions with MOM, experiences she holds dear.

“I’ve enjoyed every minute of it, I wouldn’t change it for the world. It’s truly -especially during these stressful times - it has been even more meaningful to be able to give back and to do something tangible in my community,” she said.

The stressful times Bybee references are evidenced by the long line of cars weaving through the parking lot and out onto the road for the Thanksgiving Basket Distribution. Because of the pandemic, clients now stay in their cars to participate in a drive through food pantry experience at MOM, where volunteers load up trunks with groceries to maintain social distancing.

Ellen Carlson, Executive Director of the Middleton Outreach Ministry, said for their Thanksgiving distribution, they anticipated serving about 300 families.

“At Middleton Outreach Ministry our mission is creating food and housing security in the west Madison, Middleton, and Cross Plains areas,” Carlson said.

MOM hosts three food distributions weekly, where they serve between 80 and 100 families. Carlson said since the beginning of the pandemic, she has seen food need grow, as well as an increased need for housing stability support.

“We know that over the past few months we’ve seen an increase in people coming throughout the summer and into fall, the numbers have been growing,” she said. “We want to make sure everyone in our community has the things they need this winter so they can feed their families.”

Carlson also said the pandemic has brought new faces to MOM.

“New people are finding that they have needs that they haven’t had in the past,” she said.

This year, Carlson said MOM will receive about 500,00 pounds of food from Second Harvest Foodbank of Southern Wisconsin. Carlson said they received a variety of food from Second Harvest for the Thanksgiving distribution, which allowed them to expand the distribution from what it normally is.

Additionally, Second Harvest has provided MOM with food boxes for their clients, about 200,000 of which have been given out so far.

Second Harvest serves over 225 food pantries, programs, and mobile pantry sites throughout 16 counties. From March 1 through November 30, Second Harvest distributed 16,212,923 pounds of food, which is 53% more food than the same stretch of time last year.

For Bybee, helping her neighbors is the driving force behind her years of volunteering.

“It’s difficult sometimes to realize how many people there are that do need help,” she said. “With the lack of income, the lack of job security, it’s been even more difficult for a lot of people. I think the fear of losing their homes has really contributed to a lot of the definite stress. Just to be able to put food on the table is a big thing. I’m glad that I can have a small part in that process.”

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