Glut of food donations flow north to Milaca

Every Thursday now since the first week in February this year, two SUVs full of nearly-expired groceries has been wheeling up to the Milaca Area Pantry courtesy of the Coborn’s grocery store in Princeton.

You could also say that indirectly it is also a courtesy of the new Walmart store that opened in Princeton on Feb. 1.

Look to Princeton Pantry coordinator Joyce Neumann for the explanation. First of all, February this year was the first anniversary of the Princeton food shelf, known as Princeton Pantry, getting nearly-expired food from Coborn’s for use at its food shelf. But when the new Walmart opened in Princeton and it began offering its nearly-expired food to Princeton Pantry, the amount of nearly-expired groceries overall has been more than enough for Princeton. So Princeton began taking the nearly-expired groceries from Coborn’s every Wednesday since the first week of February this year (when Walmart opened in Princeton), sorted the Coborn’s items. Princeton has then sent the sorted Coborn’s groceries to the Milaca food shelf the next day, Thursday, when it is open, according to Neumann.

The reason for just bringing the Coborn’s nearly-expired items up to the Milaca food shelf, is to “keep things simple,” Neumann said. She explained that the Coborn’s arrangement has gone on long enough that it is organized, whereas the Princeton Walmart just opened and it has been “chaotic” in getting those nearly-expired items from Walmart.

Walmart has been “very good” about providing these nearly-expired items, Neumann said. It’s just that any store that has just opened in a new market has to figure out how much of its goods will sell there and then stabilize its purchases, Neumann said. Princeton Pantry also has to get more organized on lining up the volunteers for picking up the Walmart items, she said.

Neumann noted that during one week late in the first month of Walmart’s opening here, there was an increased amount of nearly-expired meat that Walmart made available to the Princeton Pantry. Everybody who came in to ask for the meat that week at Princeton Pantry went home with some, Neumann said.

Milaca Area Pantry coordinator Carol Mueller and her helpers are so “thankful” for the nearly-expired items that Princeton is sending up there now, Neumann said. “Can you imagine, two SUVs full of produce, milk and vegetables” coming to that food shelf every Thursday? Neumann said. “That’s a huge boost for those clients.”