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KENOSHA — As part their commitment to serve the community, Kenosha Public Market is hosting a food drive to benefit several food pantries in the area.

The need for donations to food banks everywhere always takes on a bigger emphasis in the days and weeks leading to the holiday season.

But that same need doesn’t disappear when the calendar flips to the new year and the decorations are put away for another 12 months – in fact, it may become even greater during that time.

And that’s where the community can come in, starting Saturday with the return of the indoor Kenosha Public Market and a food drive to help out the Kenosha County Food Bank.

Kenosha Public Market Food drive
The Kenosha Public Market offers “A New Way To Market” even during the winter months. – Credit: KPM

The Market kicks off its winter season at the Kemper Center Simmons Auditorium, 6501 3rd Ave., Kenosha, and will run every Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. until April 29. In conjunction with the Market is “The Gift of Giving Food Drive” to assist the Kenosha County Food Bank, which services seven area food pantries.

Now is a great time for Market visitors to bring along a nonperishable food item to help organizers reach their final goal of 2,023 items that will help out the Grace Welcome Center, Twin Lakes Area Food Pantry, Shalom Center, Sharing Center, Salvation Army, Vivent Health and Women’s & Children’s Horizons.

“As it pertains to the Market, the number of people that shop significantly drops off after the holidays, and as a new market in its third location in three years, we are just getting found,” Kenosha Public Market board member Anna Moldenhauer said. “When I started to research food banks in the area, I had no idea that there was an umbrella food bank that distributes throughout the county.

“It made sense to me to recognize that and coordinate an effort for donations and an increase in attendance. Each of us has food items that we aren’t going to use but don’t want to throw out. Donating one can doesn’t seem like enough reason to cross town to give away. But your one can added to another person’s box of cereal all adds up.”

Moldenhauer stressed that the need for community help doesn’t go away, regardless of the time of year.

“As a vendor at (Kenosha Public Market), I see people from various walks of life and treat everyone as fairly as possible,” she said. “(I) know that, at the end of the day, there’s a huge unspoken need for more food, as well as contact with others in a safe and nonjudgmental arena. Our market offers a friendly, upbeat and energy-packed atmosphere to come to.”

Food drive first attempt

Moldenhauer said the Market has attempted other promotions in the past, but this is the first food drive on the docket.

Credit: KPM

And with the first one coming this weekend, she’s not only interested, but also quite excited to see what the response will be.

“Once the empty boxes that are on the Kemper Center stage start to get filled and the thermometer gauging our totals starts to get filled in, then we will see excitement and growing achievement,” she said.

While the goal for this food drive of 2,023 items may fit the new year, it may also seem a bit lofty – but very reachable if it can gain some momentum, Moldenhauer said.

One key is the weather, which always drives attendance at the market during the winter months, she said. The first weekend of December, the Merry and Bright Holiday Markets drew more than 2,000 visitors each day, and Moldenhauer said she’s hopeful the list of more than 30 vendors will help drive traffic.

“If 400 people come through weekly, let’s say 200 ‘head-of-households,’ and each brought just two items, that’s 1,600 items,” she said. “Maybe they’ll bring 300 items, and all of a sudden, we’re at 2,400. Setting a goal of 2,023 to start off 2023 seemed as reasonable as any.”

The Kenosha Public Market began in April 2020 as a “new way to market,” Moldenhauer said. Its initial focus was online because of the COVID-19 pandemic that forced the closure of area physical markets, and in turn, affected the livelihood of local producers.

“(It) set ourselves apart from other markets by being both customer- and vendor-oriented with a focus on the community,” she said.

The online market (KPM2GO) is provided free to vendors who sell full-time at the market. The online site also caters to SNAP/EBT customers, who receive a $20 match for each purchase. More than 100 vendors now participate with the Kenosha Public Market.

For more information about the Kenosha Public Market, visit www.KenoshaPublicMarket.com.


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