Rochelle Gamauf was a successful realtor, until a health scare forced her to slow down and reevaluate. After suffering a hemorrhage that resulted in multiple emergency room visits and surgeries, she struggled to do basic things like walk, or even shower, and started using a wheelchair. But she wasn’t about to let that confine or define her.
Gamauf realized that, despite her recent challenges, she already had everything she needed. And others did not.
That’s when Gamauf decided to make a pot of spaghetti, pack it up, and deliver it to ten families in need. Fast forward three years, and she’s turned those home cooked meals into a thriving food pantry called Friends With Food.
Cherita Booker, UpNorthNews Reporter: How do you describe your company, Friends With Food?
Rochelle Gamauf, Owner of Friends with Food: We are a choice food pantry, where families have the ability to choose the products that they want for their family. We serve anyone that is in need of food and supplies. We know that it’s hard to walk into a pantry, so we make the experience enjoyable! Smiles go a long way.
Currently we serve more than 250 families in more than 30 Wisconsin cities a week, and hand out up to 18,000 pounds of food.
What do you love most about your organization?
It has saved me. Giving back to others makes me appreciate life and be more humble. I love the chance to meet new families and tell them I am so happy they found us. They immediately feel comfortable.
You’re a non-profit, but you don’t receive any federal or government funding. How do you keep your doors open?
Donations from individual people, companies, and small fundraisers. We volunteer at the Brewers games to raise money. We also host events like a golf outing in August, breakfast with Santa in December, and wine nights in March.
What has been your biggest challenge?
Getting enough food. With the number of families in need increasing, we also need to increase the amount of food we take in. Currently, we pickup extra food from local stores and bakeries using our own vehicles, but having a truck would be more efficient.
How can our readers help?
We need more volunteers, food rescuers, board members, and committee members. We’re also looking for photographers, social media managers, and writers to volunteer their time.
Want to help? Sign up for a volunteer shift or make a donation online on Friends With Food’s website.
The Friends With Food pantry is open Tuesdays 9 a.m. to 11 a.m., Thursdays from 2 p.m. to 5:30 p.m., and every other Saturday from 10 a.m. to noon.
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