Last fall, Sunne Lutheran Church of Wilton embarked on a new ministry in their neighborhood. After being approached by Bismarck’s Ministry on the Margins and the Great Plains Food Bank, Rev. Paul Schauer of Sunne began working with area residents to determine whether there was a need for a local food pantry in Wilton, and, if so, to help establish the partnerships needed to support such a ministry.
It soon became apparent that a need was present but the full extent of the need was yet to be known. “We’ve got what I call our hidden rural homelessness, which is primarily trailer homes that are substandard housing. People live in them because it’s better than living in a campground or a car. It’s a roof and walls, but that’s about it,” shared Rev. Schauer in an article with Capital Electric News.
Wilton and Wing churches, the Wilton Senior Center, school, bank and other organizations came together to launch the food pantry now housed at the Wilton Senior Center. Sunne Lutheran Church, which serves as the pantry’s non-profit sponsoring organization, also applied for and received one of the first Mission Grants from the Western North Dakota Synod Mission Fund to help with the launch of the food pantry. All staff are volunteer.
As volunteers prepared for the pantry’s first food distribution in December, they prepared 22 baskets with 100 pounds of food, expecting only about 10 families to stop by. All 22 baskets, however, were quickly claimed.
“There really is a fine line between one little disaster; one car break down away from not having anything,” Rev. Schauer shared.
Food baskets are now distributed on the third Thursday of each month from 4 p.m. – 6 p.m. The pantry also carries household necessities such as dish soap and personal items such as shampoo and body wash along with food items. Sunne Lutheran serves as the fiscal agent for the food pantry, but does not fund the pantry. The pantry relies on donations and grants to purchase food and personal care products. Items are donated by organizations and individuals and food is purchased from the Great Plains Food Bank.