It began with an article in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel in September, 2002. Irene Czarnecki read an article about LaCausa nursery that gives parents a needed break as well as a safe haven for children who were abandoned and await placement in foster homes.
Mike Czarnecki retired due to health problems at age 59 and Irene suggested that perhaps some of his contacts in the bakery might be able to supply bakery to them. This would be surplus product that would end up in a dumpster. Mike made contact with a supervisor and the program began. Read More
Next came Kathy’s House, a home away from home for families who came to Milwaukee for medical treatment. Word spread and other meal programs and food pantries were added to the list. Our initial group of volunteers were members of the Knights of Columbus in West Allis. We received the Wisconsin Knights of Columbus Community Service Award in 2007 and Mike and Irene were honored as “Family of the Year” for the Milwaukee Archdiocese.
An article in the Milwaukee Catholic Herald featured the program and the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel printed an article on the front page above the fold in a Saturday Edition, as well as a “Positively Milwaukee” segment on Channel 4 television with Carole Meekins on two occasions.
As the program expanded, we applied for a 501 ( c ) ( 3 ) status as a non-profit organization.
Today, we have over 450 volunteers gathering bakery from about 250 providing bakeries, stores and outlets delivering to some 1,700 programs in an area that reaches from Sheboygan and Fond du Lac to the Illinois border and beyond. Estimates are hard to come by, but our best guess is that over 300,000+ needy people are receiving help from the program each week. All of this with no paid staff, but an army of wonderful volunteers working rain or shine, snow and cold to bring help to those in need.
John Schmitz, President
Jerald Fetzer, Treasurer
Betsy Derfus, Secretary
Frank Jelen, Director
Sharon Kimball, Director
Steven Pollock, Director
Sandy Freeman, Director
Donnie Sievert, Director
Erin Couillard, Director
Hunger Task Force
Knights of Columbus, Council 3095
Hunger Relief Foundation
St. Vincent de Paul Society
AIDS Resource Center of Wisconsin
Milwaukee Homeless Veteran’s Services
Urban Ministry/Another Hand
Brownberry, a Division of Bimbo USA
Pick n Save Foods
Sara Lee Northside Outlet
Carrabba’s Italian Grill
Numerous other providers